Is Social Networking A Waste Of Time ?

I really wanted to know the anwser to that question tonight. So I plugged similar queries into Google. I read countless articles that did not really answer the question. The major publications tended to say no or yes and just arbitrarily say why. In reality this is a complex question. Social media is a major time waste for people who are not productive on it. Many people for example are on these sites a lot, check their email frequently but overall are anti social. This 'people watcher' category is talked about on many humor sites where a person who has nothing better to do will just browse the profiles of their friends that are by and large static, meaning people have better things to do. So if people are not taking deep meaning out of social media what does it mean? My analogy is how well has playing video games served people? The same concept can be applied to social media where people just use it because just being there makes them feel a little better. If you fall into this catagory now is a time to evaluate your life. Maybe you need to step away from the computer occasionally and into new life experiences, career choices, and try to change the course of your life.

There is a next group of people who are extremely social on the net. They are constantly chatting with friends and use the internet like their telephone system. These people have close friends but tend not to extend out their network beyond who they know. For this group of people using social media is a good use of time if they limit it to interactions with people. But even these people can get drawn into the time and psychological traps positioned all around us. Do we really need to check our phone and computer 20 times an hour? Ok I do it but seriously maybe it is not a good idea.

The third group uses social media to express themselves. Afterall with many laws restricting indivdual liberty and freedom to for example go outside at 3 am many are forced to go online and amuse themselves with creativity. These people paint great pictures, do videos, photographs or anything else to express themselves. These people generally have a small network that they interact with. The social media challenge for this group is learning how to use it as a tool and put their best foot foreward. Social media becomes a problem I believe when people submit something and when they do not get instant gratification like a million hits on youtube, they get sad. If you feel like that than you may need to step away from your computer occasionally.

The fourth group of social media users are people who hate the internet but because of work or school are forced to check frequently for updates. Their use stops at email communication, and they often do not really understand the sites even if they use them occasionally. If you are in this group you should probably use social media a bit more but also set alerts on your computer and phones so you need not always check for email. My phone for instance flashes a red light when something comes in the mailbox. This is really helpful to my professional use of the web and social media.

The fifth group of people are the devote social media junkies. It is their life. Maybe their job. But they grew up on this type of stuff. They have posters with a picture of Mark Zuckerberg and Eric Schmidt shaking hands. These people are experts of every site, have ironic social media names, do live stuff and constantly post viral stuff all of the time. These people reap real benefits from social media but that is also the downfall. Because they get so many benefits they have a hard time quitting. Afterall ever picture that drives 100 k views also brings them some easy money that they can spend on life. Maybe they will buy a better life through blogging or video but they do have to work. Their challenge is that they face an emotional component of literally putting their life on the line. We have seen this in the past with professional bloggers and marketers just quiting overnight because they reached a breaking point. We have also seen many pros develop all types of health problems. In some ways for these people social media may be a poison. I am just saying.

The sixth group of couse is the most level headed bunch out of all of them. These are the business and marketing orientated people. Besides the fact that I fit into this category and the site is about that I see a great deal of moderation from this group. Entrepreneurs realize time is money and if social media is not giving them money they do take time off. Entrepreneurs also realize the long term growth effects of online residual traffic and are not afraid to plan victory decades down the line of consistent high quality work while everyone else spins their wheel and quits in a few months. These people can fall into the claws of social media and are especially keen to time and money being wasted so too much social media could have a psychological impact on them.

Many other types of people exist out there in how they use social media, and whether they should continue to use it extensively. What category do you fit into? Do you think social media is a waste of time? Or is social media a blessing for all of us?

- Joe Gelb

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