Connection vs. Purpose–The distracting busyness of the social graph

I recently noticed something about my self and my time–managing (meaning updating and reading) my status updates, friend notes, and friend feeds on friendfeed, twitter , del.icio.us and facebook is adding at least an hour a day to my routine.
Thing is, while I appreciate the coffee break chatter of the tweets, and the URL referencing of the notes/tweet/feeds, my conclusion is that the consistent, ongoing nature of the updates is a great screen for the fact that I am wasting time doing something that feels purposeful, but isn’t.
Or, to put it another way, giving too much attention to tools that support social network sharing and monitoring is a way to feel like I am *doing something* that has very limited results.
Don’t get me wrong–I love the connection–and being able to see the lifestream of people I enjoy as I sit working at home is a pleasure–but it’s also a distraction.
The reason I am writing this post, however, is that I am concerned it is a distraction dressed up as a new, crucial data stream–and I’m not convinced this is actually the case (except for those digerati who live for self promotion).
Let me put it another way: Is twitter just chatter? Is friendfeed truly useful or just superfun?
I want to be sure, in terms of my own time, that I treat these tools as resources for taking a break, and for discovering serendipitous information. I also appreciate the heard it here first, breaking news quality of some of the lifestream info (think about the primaries chatter, for example). And that is all good.
What that means for me, starting this week, is that I’m not streaming my tweets in a sidebar, I’m saving social graph/lifestream surfing for work breaks, and I’m making sure that I don’t allow the genuine pleasure of feeling connected to tempt me away from actually getting things done.

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  1. Kin Lane says:

    Amen….I have the same battle. You have to set aside the social graph work into little bursts otherwise you run the risk of fatique as well.

  2. Cate says:

    Ah yes, updating all my statuses everywhere really does add a lot of time. I think for me, I use Twitter as a way of ranting and venting as all of my other blogs/profiles are mostly public or everyone from my work can see them.
    You’re right, though. It is a distraction, and it gets very time consuming.

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