Social Media Overload: It Could Happen To You

There’s a new trend in the world of social media. It’s called the social media holiday, and several of us are taking them. What is it and how does it happen? Very simply, this is the inescapable need to close one’s Facebook account, stop the Tweets and spend a few days without any of these tools. It happens because too many of us spend too much of our lives in social media and not in the real world, engaging with the very humans we want to keep in touch with via Facebook, Twitter, etc.

I’m a Facebook maverick. I’m not on Facebook and haven’t been for about 18 months. The honest truth is that I do not miss it at all. In fact, I actually feel a little smug about being free of at least one social media site. I restrict my use of Twitter to one aspect of my life (not an easy feat by any means) and LinkedIn is almost strictly for business. I could easily go for days without looking at either. However, for those who are more engaged with social media—and, let’s face it, when I say social media, I mostly mean Facebook—there is this increasing need to take extended breaks from the virtual world.

This trend for breaks from gadgets started farther back than Facebook and the Internet. Not long after TVs reached critical mass, I could recall my parents insisting on nights off from watching the screen for hours on end (and I gave up watching TV entirely in 1999). A few years ago, the trend was to try leaving one’s mobile phone at home for an evening. Whatever the latest device or tool is, it seems we all overindulge and become fatigued.

But what drives it? Just too much of a good thing? No, it’s the fact that we substitute real-life human interactions for TV, texting or social media, and, I suspect, after quite some time, a mild depression sets in. As humans, we are social creatures—even the curmudgeonly types like me. We need real contact in order to feel right in our own skin. Social media—like all the other tools before and after it—was only ever meant to enhance real life, not serve as a substitute for it. But we’ve used these tools in the wrong way and are suffering the effects of our overdosing.

So how does all of this social media usage affect our clients? Like with any other trend in our industry, there should never be an exclusive social media campaign any more than there should be an exclusive viral or an email campaign, because what is here and hip today could be old and dusty and yesterday’s news tomorrow. Ultimately, it starts with the strategy, then the idea and, if there is an idea that works better on social media, then let it be. The key is to remember that while social media has a role to play in our work, it is just one of several channels. Let’s not get stuck in silos.

Alex Pierre-Traves is the client services director at gyro London.

Follow Alex @aptsw1