Blocking and tackling social media distractions

I speak to plenty of young people to whom Facebook is like email –something they leave on and check every few minutes. But they are chatting on other channels as well. If you look carefully some folks even check their phones for incoming mail at …church.

So the question I get asked is, whether TMS (too much socialnetworking) is killing our attention. How do you read a 300-page book, how do you watch a 2-hour movie, or listen to a keynote speaker without instinctively reaching out to your laptop or phone to comment/share/snipe?

We adults have a similar problem –TMI (too much incoming). nearly every Blackberry user I speak to complains of being a few hundreds of emails behind. I knew someone who two years ago, would tune out a speaker at a small-group discussion(for 10 – 15 minutes) just to respond to his incoming mail. It was embarrassing to watch!

I’ve been running into many people calling time out, addressing TMS and TMI. Two names you may recognize.

Joel Spolsky, writer for Inc. Magazine. In his last column, he analyzes why Too Much Communication is killing us.

Now, we all know that communication is very important, and that many organizational problems are caused by a failure to communicate. Most people try to solve this problem by increasing the amount of communication: cc’ing everybody on an e-mail, having long meetings and inviting the whole staff, and asking for everyone’s two cents before implementing a decision.

And Seth Godin, railing against Incoming.

That email, Facebook and message queue is a lot longer than it used to be. For some people, it’s now a hundred or even a thousand distinct social electronic interactions a day. It’s as if a genie is whispering in your ear, “I have an envelope, and it might contain really good or really bad news. Want to open it?”

It’s time to stop letting the genie take over our lives. It’s time to put the brakes ion email; to stop taking notes, to pay attention to the speaker. It’s time to join the conversation happening in front of you first.

The other conversations (online) could wait a few minutes couldn’t it?

One thought on “Blocking and tackling social media distractions

  1. It’s still time? can we go back? can we change the new habits we’ve just adopted?
    I am really trying harder but the only thing I need is to see my Blackberry red light on to look at it… not only working days, not only days… but nights also. Even when I get up in the middle of the night!! I agree with you, is time to work on that! I won’t turn it off but probably I could start by not looking at it in public. It’s something, isn’t it?


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