Anti-Social Media: A Rising Rebellion Against Web 2.0?

Want to wipe your online slate completely clean for 2010 and eliminate most traces of your social-media indiscretions? Now, there's an app for that. As highlighted by TechCrunch, the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine will do the dirty work for you: Just give it your passwords and watch it totally purge your social-media accounts at Facebook, LinkedIn and other such sites. This splash page that greets visitors to the Netherlands-based site tells it all.
We want to say a big Thank You to all our 2.0 suiciders in 2009. With your strength we managed to unfriend about 50.000 friends and remove more than 150.000 tweets! We are looking forward to 2010.
%%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%% Indeed, the social-media blowback has begun in earnest as more and more media outlets publish tales of Web 2.0 woe, detailing how sites like Facebook have eaten the lives, grades and productivity of legions unable to take their eyes off the glowing feeds detailing the tiniest minutiae of the lives of everyone they've ever known.

The new service apparently struck a nerve with Facebook, which has blocked Web 2.0 Suicide and is no longer allowing it to access Facebook acounts. Web 2.0 Suicide machine makers, the Dutch media lab Moddr, said it is looking for ways to circumvent the Facebook ban. The company is unlikely to yield. In a statement Facebook said:
"Facebook provides the ability for people who no longer want to use the site to either deactivate their account or delete it completely. Web 2.0 Suicide Machine collects login credentials and scrapes Facebook pages, which are violations of our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. We've blocked the site's access to Facebook as is our policy for sites that violate our SRR. We're currently investigating and considering whether to take further action."
So is this the beginning of a long-awaited social media backlash? The New York Times published a lengthy article this month on teens who have either limited their use of Facebook or completely rejected it. The conclusion of these nonconformists, swimming against a tide of 350 million Facebook users: Life is actually richer, more productive and better without the social-networking tools. And in the U.K., businesses are banning Twitter in the workplace after finding that employees were twittering away too many hours and frittering away productivity to the tune of nearly $2 billlion, according to the U.K. research and IT services firm Morse.

Unready to Quit Cold Turkey ... But How About a Twitter Hiatus?


Even dedicated users of social-media applications are admitting that too much can be way too much. Writes respected nonprofit technology expert and consultant Beth Kanter in a blog post titled My New Year's Resolution: Use Social Media Efficiently, "a Twitter hiatus can be good for resetting your goals or understanding any bad habits."

To take this line of thought a step further, plenty of people still don't use the Internet at all, and many of them seem to be doing quite fine. Wall Street Journal writer Kevin Helliker details the life of his brother Keith, a telecommunications technician who installs broadband Internet access for a living, but refuses to use the Net because he likes talking to people. Kevin admits he actually calls Keith for sources because he knows more people than just about anyone else.

So is wiping your social media slate clean a bad idea? It certainly can have adverse consequences if your business depends on tweeting, using LinkedIn or other forms of social media (Facebook, probably not so much -- although look for Facebook to create a new privileges tier for recruiting and business networking in the near future). I personally like the idea of Kanter's social media hiatus, and plan on taking one at a minimum every weekend, and probably lengthier ones several times per year.

As a communications tool and feedback loop, social media is a powerful thing. But as a time-waster, it has lifted the art of spending endless hours on nothing you can recall later as being useful or important to an entirely new level. Yes, I'll be tweeting away next year. But hopefully, less prolifically. Like Helliker's brother Keith, I find talking to people so much more rewarding than tweeting at them.

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