At first I thought it was just me. Then I asked a couple of colleagues at Dow Jones and several echoed my sentiment. I believe I am experiencing what I was calling ‘social fatigue’. I simply reached a point of personal saturation for social software. How many social applications can one user use at one time? I’m sure Jeremiah Owyang is developing a Forrester study on the topic. And today, I came across the article ‘Facebook fatigue’ kicks in as people tire of social networks in The Register. ‘Facebook fatigue?’, so it isn’t just me.
Facebook continues to impress me as it is still sets the standard as the complete social platform. The news feed is a great feature. And the power of the platform itself, often the topic of discussion and a place where numerous developers have already built into its frameworks. And the group functionality (sometimes) and events calendars have also proven helpful. However, for me, it simply isn’t scoring enough on utility. I only find myself using it once a week, not once an hour. The passing-along karma, the beers with wings, the happy hour invites, the groups for “everything under the sun” has me thinking about the topic of ‘social spam’. And even the amazing pace at which I can consume Scrabulous games has simply starting caused me social software fatigue.
And more social software enters the picture like Tumblr and Seesmic. Each with their unique take and value proposition, a multi-content type micro-blogging service and video email/conversation respectively. It will be interesting to see how each develops traction with their user base. And there are many others which is really incredible. So as these new ventures enter the picture, I ask: Is and should consolidation in this space begin? Will we see the functionality of these ventures merge quicker in the social networking space at the same rapid pace that we saw the new offerings launch at the speed of Web 2.0. Has this consolidation already begun like WordPress launching Prologue earlier this week?
Time will tell. But if I am experience fatigue and I immerse myself in the web everyday, social fatigue must be real. So alas, I find myself back to finding the highest level of utility in LinkedIn, still in my opinion the unheralded social networking site for business use, and Twitter, the social component I had initially questioned its utility but now use throughout the day.
Opinions? Thoughts? Social Energy? Social Fatigue? Yes? No?
[Update 2/1/08: Jeremiah Owyang commented that he is not currently doing a study on the topic of social fatigue but that it is a trend to watch.]