Social Media on a Timeout

I’m an impulsive guy and unlike a lot of people, I do better at cold turkey than tapering things. One day last spring I just decided to stop drinking diet coke and went from 3-6 cans a day to drinking maybe a dozen in the last year. Last fall I decided to stop using Twitter pretty much all at once, based on their treatment of the I Want Sandy acquisition.

Today, out of nowhere I decided to taper down my use of FriendFeed quite a bit. From my hiatus message and comments:

I’m thinking hard about taking a FriendFeed timeout. It feels like I have a big imbalance between the time I use it and the value I receive from it. I also really don’t like that I used to blog 10 times a week and now I do it once or twice a week.

I used to build value for myself, now I do it for FriendFeed. Others are doing it for Twitter or Facebook or whatever. This is the ugly underside of Web 2.0. We feel like we’re conversing but we’re really sharecroppers to make a few millionaires into billionaires. I’m having a 2.0 burnout/meltdown/rejection.

In fact, I’m closing the web page right now. For the time being, my only interaction with FF will be through the ~ 1/10th of my subscriber list that goes to IM (mostly locals with whom I might conceivably have lunch.) Time to start following my gut, and this feels right.

I really do feel like I’m getting played by social media in general. FriendFeed is without a doubt the social media that feels like I get the most value out of it and it isn’t enough. I’m tired of strangers who come in via friend of friend relationships giving me smack. (It’s already happened on my post above.) The whole enterprise feels like a time suck that doesn’t give me enough back to warrant my time.

I’m already gotten pushback on my paragraph #2. This is absolutely something I believe and have been talking about for some time. Tim O’Reilly and other Web 2.0 utopists talk about the upside to users. I’ve been noting that Web 2.0 and the Long Tail have a seriously dark underbelly in that while lots of people are doing bits of work and hopefully receiving requisite value back, the people who cash in are the aggregators and big players while the rest of us are just hamsters in their wheels. While we are running around and crying “Wheeeee!” for getting to ride in the wheel, they have wired us to the grid and are selling the power we generate. The real winners are Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg and Kevin Rose and Evan Williams. People think I’m nuts for this attitude, but it’s the truth. This is happening right now. I mentioned I Want Sandy above. Rael Dornfest sold his company to Twitter and the reason he could is that 50,000 or so people used the site. We created the value, someone else cashed the check. That’s what Web 2.0 really is.

So, I’m withdrawing somewhat from the social media world. I’m going to take that energy and try to post more to this blog. I’d like to record more podcasts. Perhaps I’m being a selfish prick but if I’m taking my time, I’d like to accrue the value. I have control of every post I’ve ever made to this here blog. I can’t say that about any social media site. I’m tired of building things in other people’s house. Let’s do some of it here or on your own site, in ways you control. Take back your time, rise up and stop your tweets and super pokes and what have you. I want to be in charge of my own identity, to own my own stuff and I’m tired of building someone else’s house 140 characters at a time.


I follow the snark of as a funny antidote to some of the froth around GSD (even though I think most critics miss the actual value, it’s still fun reading them take the piss out of the thing).

Don Marti had a pretty good post explaining that value. Leave it to to find the negative in the exact same topic. It includes this hilarious and entirely true bit:

It was genius to call it tagging, it would have been a harder sell if Joshua Schachter came up with Unpaid Database Entry.


I’ve been listening to the various “Web 2.0” criticisms for a while now, both of the term and of the idea. I mentioned in my last podcast how I’m getting weary of people criticizing in situations where they could actually do the thing itself with not much more effort than complaining, exposing themselves for being lazy and all talk. These ideas are kind of coming together.

If you break it down to it’s heart, “Web 2.0” is about getting more things built faster for less money and that in turn allows us to actually do more better work. Is getting work done hype? How can it be? It’s about doing rather than talking, which explains why some pundits are turning against it. I’m guessing that the degree to which a pundit backlashes is inversely proportional to the rolled up height of their sleeves. I’ve never heard Jon Udell backlash at all, and his sleeves are rolled up to his neck.

Today I listened to the excerpt of the Bruce Sterling talk from eTech. In it, he said “If no one is accusing you of being all hype, you aren’t talking loud enough.” I like that outlook. I’ll add my corollary – “The best way to stick it to those who accuse you of being all hype is to make yourself indispensable in their lives. That’ll show them.”

From here forward, whenever I used to use “Web 2.0”, I’m going to use my own term: GSD. In analogy to David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”, this stand for “Getting Shit Done.” [Substitute “Stuff” if your gentle constitution requires it.] That’s where my head is at lately. Last fall I decided that rather than spend any more time criticizing the way podcast directories work, I built one that works according to my value system. Living well is the best revenge, and building something better is the best criticism. Less tongue in the air, more ass in the chair.

Those in the Pee Dee section of South Carolina, come join me Saturday for an afternoon of asses in chairs, and we can GSD.