Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Sound of Social Media Silence

In the hours leading up to the "Lost" series finale that aired last Sunday, many people updated their blogs, Facebook statuses, and Twitter pages with a statement indicating that they'd be staying off the Internet and powering off mobile devices until after they watched the finale, so as to avoid surprises and spoilers.

Of course, you don't have to be a fan of "Lost" to relate to the impulse to disengage from online distractions, but the willingness of so many people to do so to watch a television show made me wonder what else qualifies as a reason to steer clear of the Internet and social media.

Do people just pull away for media that's prone to spoliers and leaks, like anticipated television shows and movies? What about pro sporting events, particularly when someone attempts the often tried but difficult to accomplish feat of recording the game, avoiding the score, and then watching it later without knowing the outcome. And what about people who disengage for personal reasons, like during holidays or on weekends?

No doubt, people have widely varying thresholds and preferences here. For my part, I tend to disengage on weekends, to spend time with my family and also to recharge and enjoy other hobbies and interests. That said, there are degrees of disengagement, from mostly tuning out but keeping the cell phone on and getting online for a few minutes here and there to full-on bunker mode, with Internet and mobile devices powered off. And the growing convergence of our communication devices with leading social media vehicles, like Facebook and Twitter, is definitely blurring the boundary. If I regularly connect with my real-world contacts through social media sites, how disruptive is it to disconnect?

I suspect it will become harder to disengage from social media as these vehicles become even more a part of our lives, like when they are accessible easily through our televisions and cars. But I bet people will find a way to unplug when they really want to, like when the series finale of their favorite show airs.

1 comment:

  1. Spoiler alert!

    It turned out to be the island from H.R. Pufnstuf!