Reducing Social Media Waste
And it felt fantastic.
Inspired by Path’s use of Dunbar’s number, I had “social media waste” on the mind and I reconsidered the networks I’d built around myself over the past several years. I, like so many other social media users, was quick to amass as many friends/followers/fans/connections as possible, across as many networks as possible.
The unfortunate side-effect of this social media arms race was that in the process, I had somehow reduced the value of any truly deep relationships that I had cultivated in a pre-Facebook world.
Mired in a sea of meaningless connections, I resolved to do more than segment my connections into circles and lists or manage them by fine-tuning hundreds of delicate privacy settings. The solution was simply to have fewer connections; I would increase the quality of my network by decreasing its quantity.
While it’s unclear whether or not Path and its 150 connection limit will take hold as a platform, the core concept is worth considering. You can’t have more connections, because you can’t have more connections. It’s psychologically and sociologically not possible to carry on this many “relationships” at one time.
Zuckerberg’s law - that we will continue to share more and more of our daily lives with others - may hold true in the end, but I believe we’ll begin to share in much tighter online circles than we have before. The volume of content we as users create and distribute is not slowing down, and the movement toward frictionless sharing in the social world means that controlling the composition and size of your social network is more important than ever.
In order for true meaning and value to return to the social space, networks need to shrink, not expand. Genuine engagement is not possible with thousands of people at one time, and in the coming year (and beyond) we will start to see a re-emphasis on quality over quantity, for both brands and individual users alike.