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Are you on social network overload?

October 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you are on social network overload, it may be hurting your real-life friendships.Business owner Steve Boyle is a busy guy, but social networks help him stay connected on the go.

"It's a class reunion every day if you want it to be," Boyle says.

When Boyle logs on to sites like Facebook and Twitter, he sees a slew of status updates taking over his homepage.

"After a while it just gets really annoying," he adds.

He's not alone in his annoyance. A growing number of people are dealing with social network fatigue.

Tired of being bombarded, many people are starting to see their friends in a different light.

Psychologist Patricia Wallace says part of the problem is mundane and frequent updates.

"When you say, 'I had pancakes for breakfast and I'm leaving the house now,' you really can't see the other person yawning," says Wallace.

We all have a few close friends, but these cyber social networks can expand our group of casual friends to include more than 250 people.

"You could get fatigued if those 250 casual friends are sharing information you don't really care about, but most people do care about the status updates of that small circle of friends," explains Jan Yager, author of, "When Friendship Hurts."

While some are boring, others just brag.

"I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't have friends that brag or gloat about what they're doing, or their job. It gets tedious," admits Boyle.

And that can lead to jealousy and frustration. There's also the issue of etiquette, especially when someone doesn't respond to a comment or message right away.

"This really relates to the fact that we don't know what the rules should be. One trick I use frequently is I will just send back an e-mail saying thanks for your note, I'll get back to you in a few days," says Wallace.

Still, experts agree that if we aren't careful, these online interactions can damage our real life relationships.

So, how do you prevent this? First, watch your own behavior online.

"Run it by a focus group of one, just yourself. Reread what you're about to post and imagine yourself to be one of the readers," says Wallace.

If you're frustrated with a friend's behavior, try and express your concerns directly.

Finally, only respond to posts you find interesting and ignore the ones that bother you. That's what Boyle does but admits he'd like to get back to the basics of the phone and writing letters.

"I myself also want to find a happy medium between placing phone calls and also using what's most convenient at the time," Boyle adds.


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