Ever stop and take notice of the activity on your favourite social networks lately? On a typical day if your friends or followers are anything resembling mine, there’s probably a small group of hyper active users who seem to do all or most of the sharing.
At the other end of the spectrum there’s a segment who rarely (if ever) seem to post or share anything new. This group remains virtually silent week to week, month to month.
What’s going on here? I’m fascinated to know, for example, what causes one person to Tweet over 33,000 times while someone else only Tweets once or twice then abandons it altogether.
Facebook is an interesting slice of Web culture. A kind of digital gated community where everyone’s identity has supposedly been confirmed. “Eradicate the trolls”, Zuckerberg might say to his engineers. I seem to know a lot of people who set up skeleton accounts divulging bare minimum personal information only to log in once or twice a year, if at all. By contrast, my (Facebook) stream is often dominated by a dozen or so hardcore users who routinely post status updates several times per day or more. Are these people oversharing? Maybe not, but it might depend on what you’re sharing, to whom, and how frequently you’re doing it.
Granted, a lot of us just end up in front of the computer all day long. Twitter and Facebook become natural extensions of our social lives. Chatting on the phone, taking coffee breaks, time spent hanging around the office water cooler—all these activities have been supplanted, to a certain degree, by our use of social media. This could partially explain why some people have a tendency to share more than others.
On the other hand we might simply choose to be a light user, preferring to engage in social networking in the evenings after work. For some of us sharing in the social space is limited (or extended) by our disposable time. Regardless, I know a lot of people who are perfectly fine to just check-in on Facebook for a couple minutes 2 or 3 times a month to see what’s going on with friends and family. That’s it. There’s no desire to share photos, links, stories, or chit-chat directly with others—that’s what FaceTime is for, isn’t it?
My wife apparently falls among the 34% of women who log in to Facebook first thing in the morning when they wake up. She’s almost always chatting away with friends even before her first cup of coffee. I like to jokingly say that her beloved iPhone 4 will someday be surgically implanted* somewhere as a permanent digital fashionista accessory. (*Docking station not included; Some assembly required)
Google+, lately, has become a very interesting place to start conversations. I follow a few net celebrities like Chris Brogan. Chris is a professional speaker, New York Times bestselling author, and blogger. He’s also a prolific Google+ user. His stream of updates supersede everyone else, by a huge margin. But I’m wondering, do I really need to see pictures of his freezer or his daily booster juice concoctions? Well, not really.
But I suppose the very idea of what we choose to share with others varies significantly from one person to the next. What might seem trivial to one audience will be re-blogged, commented and shared hundreds—even thousands—of times among other audiences.