My wise friend Geoff Livingston put out a great post this morning called “A Bad Case of NOMO”. It plays off the term FOMO: Fear of Missing Out – that drives much of peoples’ behaviour online. In Geoff’s post, he describes NOMO as “No More” – in other words, complete and utter fatigue from social media. Go read the post….I’ll wait.
Social media fatigue, as Geoff says, is a real thing, and it causes real concern for a lot of people, who are already overloaded and stressed. We have so much to do in a day, and now we have to keep up with our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIN, blog reading, and Pinterest accounts too? I’m tired just thinking about it!
While it’s true that keeping up with the online world is a lot of work, you definitely don’t need to be all things to all people in all places at all times. The best part about social media is it’s a Choose Your Own Adventure game. You get to choose the experience you have, and reap the benefits YOU want from your time here.
Filter, filter, and filter some more.
I can’t stress enough how important filtering is when it comes to controlling the flow of information. I follow a ridiculously high number of people on Twitter (3,000+). This has happened in large part just because I’ve been using the tool since 2007, and I often will follow people because they serve a purpose at the time, then I just don’t bother unfollowing later. I absolutely don’t spend all day trying to read tweets from three thousand people. I have a filtered, private Twitter list that has about 300 or so accounts on it. These are the accounts of friends, family, clients, some local businesses, celebrities that I find amusing, and a few very select news sources. I don’t read every tweet, but this filtered list helps me zero in on the conversations I want to see. A lot of the noise just fades into the background. I add and remove accounts from the list all the time, based on my current interests. It’s the best way I know how to get the most from Twitter.
You can do the same with other tools too – Facebook for example lets you create lists based on interests, and it lets you remove anyone from your main stream (or just limit the number of updates) – so you no longer have to be annoyed by that high school friend who posts every detail of their lives on Facebook (and you don’t have to suffer the wrath that may come if you unfriend them).
Notifications are a funny beast. I float somewhere between the Mitch Joel extreme (he has NO notifications turned whatsoever on any device) to wanting to see everything. I like to have notifications in front of me at certain times, like if I’m in the midst actively participating on social networks – it helps me keep up with the conversations. Other times I switch everything off so I can focus on work, and check in periodically (especially on client accounts, where monitoring is part of my job). For email, I use Apple iOS’s VIP List extensively, so I only get on-screen email notification from those that I need to see right away (my work team, family members, and close friends). Otherwise, I don’t look at it.
The point is, just because notifications for social accounts and your devices are turned ON by default, doesn’t mean you need to keep it that way. Get rid of all unnecessary notifications – you don’t need to get an email every time someone likes or comments on your status on Facebook. You don’t need an email whenever someone mentions you on Twitter. And if you get anywhere over 50 emails a day (like most of us do) then you definitely don’t need your phone chiming every time something new comes in!
Keep your close friends closest.
I have been using Path for a little over a year now. It’s a very closed, very small social network that not a lot of people talk about, other than those who use it. I have about 25 friends on there, and I plan to keep it that way. Because it’s made up of close friends, it’s part dinner party, part group therapy. It’s never about selling or marketing or promoting – heck, people don’t even promote their blog posts in there. It’s purely about connecting and sharing and giving/getting advice. And it’s the one network where I get a tonne of value.
When the noise of the Web seems too loud, but I still want to feel connected, I retreat to Path. It’s a bit of solace in an otherwise overcrowded world.
Fight FOMO and NOMO. Turn it off.
Ultimately, there’s always a choice – the choice to just shut it off and walk away. Some people have an easier time doing this than others. But when you choose to, the power button is right there. I know people who actually shut off their modems altogether, or use an app like Freedom to become Internet-free for a while. If you have an issue like FOMO (and many people do), it can be hard at first. You might even feel withdrawal-like symptoms. But persevere – because time away from the stream allows you to relax your mind and get clear. It allows the bitterness associated with over-sharing friends and hard sell marketing fluff to subside. And it even allows you to overcome NOMO, if you do it for long enough.
Don’t worry, we’ll be here when you come back – and we’ll fill you in on anything you’ve missed that’s important. Which may not be much, as it turns out.