JULY 2009 IN

3 Signs of the Death of Social Networking

Social networking is booming — but here are three recent signs that hint that the trend can’t last forever.

  1. In my e-mail inbox, an advertisement for a web site that “registers you for over 100 social networks all at once.” Sociologists disagree about whether it possible to have 100 friends, within the traditional meaning of a friend. The idea of keeping up with 100 social networks is purely a fantasy. If you spent just five minutes a day on each, when would you sleep?
  2. Paid advertisements on Twitter for a service that promises to simplify Twitter for people who don’t really have time for it. Honestly, if you don’t have time to write 10–15 words about what’s going on in your world, or read a 140-character message from someone who is supposed to be a friend, nothing in the world can help you. There is no shortcut for something that is so short to begin with. The fact that people are looking for shortcuts tells you that many people don’t really want to get to know a network of friends.
  3. All the people who try to say “social networking,” and it comes out as “social marketing.” As soon as marketing becomes the whole purpose of social networking, then it has killed the purpose of social networking. After all, people who just want the marketing experience already have Craigslist and AOL to look at.

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