I’ve determined that Social Networks (Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, et al.) suck at creating and fostering relationships. Why? Because social networks amplify our already look at me, what’s in it for me, mentality.
Case in point. At one time in my life I was a huge Flickr user, no no, I was a Flickr addict. I was checking Flickr probably 50 times a day, on a slow day. Then the brilliant minds at Yahoo/Flickr decided the site needed a makeover, I thought it sucked, so I stopped using the site. This forced intervention dropped my Flickr usage down to 1-3 times PER WEEK. The effect that this drop in usage had was very interesting. The “friends” that I had found on Flickr were no longer there, the number of times my photos were viewed dropped dramatically, the number of comments my photos received went to zero. Why? I was still uploading just as many photos, the quality of my work, in my opinion, had actually gotten better. What had changed? I had stopped viewing and commenting on my “friends” photos…..quid pro quo!
Think I’m crazy? Take a look at the top photo groups on Flickr: ”Post 1 – Comment on 5″, “Post 1 – Fav 10″, “Post 1 – View 5″. Look at me. Love me.
Twitter? Hey everyone, look at what I’m doing, I’m so cool.
Facebook? Yeah, I’m kind of a big deal, that’s my big ass house, new Mercedes, hot chick.
Now, before I completely write off Social Networks, they are good for one type of relationship, stealing a line from Fight Club here, Social Networks are perfect for ‘Single Serving Friends‘. If you accept that Social Networks are limited to a single serving opportunity to connect you’ll be fine, if on the other hand you believe you are truly creating long term relationships, you are bound to literally explode. There is no way you can possible keep up with the ever expanding network, and once you blink, it’s all over. Damn, that’s a lot of pressure to Tweet, Status Update, Upload, every day of your life.
In the real world, this cancerous growth of our networks is kept in check by time, space, and true friends who are willing to tell us that we are being douchebags.