Is Social Media helping us?

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In the next 10 years, social media as we know will go the way of the 8-track tape, disposable camera, and fax machine. And I can’t say that I’m sad.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy interacting with online friends — or that businesses haven’t made a valiant effort to listen to their customers online. But here’s the thing:

Every morning, my eyes pop open with the thought, “I need to post.” Not I need to eat, call home, pray — but post. The experts tell me it has to be done no later than 8:00 Eastern time, preferably earlier. My second thought is, “Post what? What words of wisdom do I have today?” If I come up short, then I hope my wise friends are up earlier and have written a spectacular post that day that I can “share.”

Then of course, there are the related tasks: writing weekly blogs and guest blogs, doing BlogTalkRadio interviews, planning online book tours, participating in affiliate book launches, responding to reporters’ questions online, catching up with what’s trending on Twitter, retweeting my friends’ tweets, circling over to LinkedIn to check messages and my group discussions, responding to all the “Like” requests, sharing some fascinating article from HuffPost, HBR, or Forbes with a witty lead-in on Google Plus, then checking Facebook notifications to see who said what about whom.

Do I really have this kind of time? But if I disappear from this scene for a couple of weeks, people start emailing to ask if I’ve died. So I keep posting, sharing, tweeting, and liking.

But it has to stop. Why?

It’s stressful.

People have become tired of being connected 24/7, of being expected to be available to respond to an email at a sporting event on Friday night, at commenting on an angry post on Sunday morning, at arranging a conference call while sitting in the dentist office at 7:30 a.m. getting a cavity filled, at retweeting the boss’s PR messages during the holidays.

It reduces productivity.

Spending an hour a day on social media amounts to nine weeks a year! Nine weeks! That’s enough to complete a couple of college courses. Some people spend twice that amount of time on social media. Think what they could create, build, give, or learn with that time.

It costs money — and it going to start costing much more as sites find new ways to monetize.

All the social media sites started out free to users. Now that users have been enticed and hooked, Facebook has started to monetize its business pages. LinkedIn also has an upgraded plan. Before long, all will be charging except for the very basic features. In addition to the monetization by the social media sites (who can blame them; every business needs to make money), many individuals and businesses now even hire marketing teams to “participate” for them online.

That is, the marketing team posts and responds for them online and becomes their online “presence” — another cost of social media. This is not to mention those sites that even extort money from businesses to remove bad reviews from complaining customers (sometimes even up to $100k!) without allowing the business to respond to the complainer.

It has become noise and clutter, not communication.

Individuals and small businesses used to say that the internet and social media leveled the playing field — that they could occasionally toss in a mention about their product or service on their personal pages or blog and no one would mind. But now, everyone uses social media for that purpose. Every day, you get messages about free webinars, free teleseminars, free BlogTalkRadio shows, free reports, free white papers, and free downloadable ebooks. People beg you to take their giveaways. It’s all noise and clutter.

It reduces creativity.

Thinking creatively with all the social media noise around you is the equivalent of writing a dissertation in the middle of speeding traffic on a super highway. You may get the stimulation of new ideas, but executing them becomes another matter.

It’s no longer real.

Do you really have 87,000 “followers” on Twitter who respond when you suggest they take action? Do you even have 500 close “connections” on LinkedIn who would take your call tomorrow? How many of your 18,237 “friends” on Facebook would recognize your name if they saw it on a billboard?

By Dianna Booher