Are social media absentees really psychopaths?


social media burnout


Many posts and magazine articles in the last week or so about how not having a Facebook account could make us look suspicious. Amongst others, this one by Kashmir Hill in Forbes magazine.

Some commentators even go so far as to say that a lack of a social media presence could indicate that we are psychopaths.

They gleefully point out that the mass murderers in Norway and Colorado did not have Facebook accounts. I don’t think it would take that much effort to find thousands of good, honest, solid, peaceful ordinary people who don’t have one either.

I beg to differ, the longer I am involved with social media (and I was a very early twitter convert in 2008) the more I think it is the other way around. The non-users, never-users or recent abandoners could be the normal ones in a sea of craziness.

Do we label people who favour bicycles over cars as psychopaths? Different maybe but not weird. What about those religious or cultural groups that prefer to use animal or human power to grow crops,  houses without electricity. Do we label them as crazy?

The same article goes on to quote employers being suspicious if job applicants do not have Facebook accounts. What is the world coming to? Do employers ask job seekers what radio or tv stations they tune in to? What newspapers or magazines they read? Are people who prefer low-tech vehicles without all the fancy electronic communication and entertainment gear also suspicious?

Our love affairs with the latest technology have absorbed us since the invention of the wheel, those that endure are the ones that are truly useful and make our lives easier. Telephones and computers certainly fall in that category, I am not convinced Facebook does. Perhaps social media as we know it is destined to go the way of the cassette tape and adding machine, to evolve into something better and more user-friendly some time in the future.

I have accounts with most of the major social media platforms and many other smaller more specialised ones because it helps my business. I could happily live without all of them and have already closed several that fell into the pure time-waster category.

Also mentioned in the same article was the  “sin” of people who post misleading  relationship statuses on social media and asks if they should be exposed. Seems to me that some people have been hiding their true status for generations with ulterior motives, old activity new medium. A case of buyer beware, as for exposure, that could be tricky because of the nature of the media, make a mistake in accusations and the accuser might be in more trouble than the accused. Perhaps the yardstick is, if we would not put it in a classified ad in a newspaper, we shouldn’t be putting it on Facebook.

I am not the only one who sees the dangers in our devotion to social media, another Forbes article by Haydn Shaughnessy identifies them very clearly.

What’s the bottom line? Different for each of us I expect. I find Facebook, twitter and other platforms useful media for business, twitter is about the only one I actually enjoy, because of its short tweets and short cycles of visibility.

With the ability to transfer photos as email attachments, chat or video call on Skype, I can keep in touch with family and friends around the world in private without spending hours wading through endless, interesting but essentially useless, stuff on Facebook.

Since starting to work from home full-time, my Blackberry has become just an expensive cell phone. I rarely use any of its smart phone features, only if I have to wait somewhere for any length of time.  When it wears out or becomes obsolete I will almost certainly replace it with a simple cell phone – if they are still available then. Preferably one with large characters that can be seen easily!  I much prefer to read emails and visit websites on my desktop, decent digital cameras take better photos and videos than smart phones.

What has this got to do with business and marketing? Everything, a lot of people have created jobs and businesses by promoting social media as The Marketing Channel, it is a wonderful medium for many brands and products. It is not a magical cure-all for declining or stagnant sales in every business. If large numbers of users decide to risk being classed as suspicious by abandoning it, then there will be a major impact on those businesses and brands that have invested heavily in it.

What do you think? Am I just a contrary old boomer not wanting to move with the times or is social media burnout a real, and growing, problem?

Wishing you success.


Peter Wright






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  3 comments for “Are social media absentees really psychopaths?

  1. August 15, 2012 at 4:57 am

    Hi Peter,

    Personally – I think it all depends on what you want to achieve with your
    business and marketing campaigns and the overall value you add to per customer
    versus the ROI. If it isn’t worth the effort, investment and risk then ultimately
    it will be better for overall business to stay away from social media.

  2. August 15, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Thanks for your comment Anton, I agree with you. I find it interesting that I see the benefits of social media as part of marketing strategy for my and many businesses, but do not find it particularly important or enjoyable for my personal life. I hope that view does not become too prevalent.

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