Are we entering a new age of cyber sobriety? The status updates seem to say “yes.”
People increasingly are editing their social-media choices and sometimes checking in less often “because they have other things in their life that are more interesting,” said Joanne Cantor, author of “Cyber Overload” and owner of “Your Mind on Media.”
Facebook lost 6 million U.S. users last month, according to the tracking report “Inside Facebook,” a finding that the social networking giant has contested. And while 8 percent of U.S. online users are on Twitter, the Pew Research Center recently reported that 21 percent of them don’t bother to check the site.
Despite these indicators, experts said that social networking is here to stay. Users, however, are tallying the toll of their virtual obligations and figuring out how to better manage time-consuming on-line relationships.
Obsessively succumbing to the Pavlovian pull of twinkly digital come-ons “disrupts your ability to use your brain at its highest level,” Cantor said. People are realizing that “all these digital distractions are procrastination enablers” that stymie professional productivity and personal gratification.
“I deleted my Facebook account three months ago,” said Imani Nana, 30, a Flushing clerical worker. Nana wearied of reading “all the negativity” about irritating husbands and bosses and pointless personal twaddle.
“I feel better now. I get work done and I can read a damn book,” Nana said.
Chris Kinniburgh, 29, of Williamsburg, decided not to join Twitter and only checks his Facebook account twice a week.
“These things originally were a way to share and connect, but now they’ve become a way to actually avoid connecting,” said the hair and make-up artist.
He realized the dark side of social networking when a bitter ex-date saw he had become friends with a recent romantic prospect. The ex-date messaged the man “not to date me,” scuttling the nascent romance, Kinniburgh said.
Of course, disengaging completely from the digital grid is unthinkable for most young people. Using social media is all about management and moderation, said Ali Feinstein, 21, a digital associate for MTV who cannot go a day unconnected.
“If you’re not on Facebook, you’re almost irresponsible,” said the East Village resident. “You’re missing out on invitations and opportunities to be social in real life!”
So many ways to connect, so little time
Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Tumblr and LinkedIn are among the biggies, but if you’re looking for more ways to connect, there’s no shortage, especially if you have a specific interest or need. If you’re not plugged in enough (and we doubt that), then consider:
10,000,000 users: Connects social activists worldwide.
9,500,000 users: Hosts blogs for those with serious illnesses.
117,000,000 users: Provides a Facebook-like profile page.
20,000,000 users: Offers games and fosters friendships, mostly among teens.
63,000,000 users: Allows film buffs to rate movies and connect. It’s Rotten Tomatoes’ parent site.
9,000,000 users: Showcases artwork online.
50, 000,000 users: Reconnects graduates with long-lost school mates.
(with Gabrielle Bruney)