Balancing Online Life with the World Offline

By Erin Harrison September 17, 2010

As wildly popular as Facebook is today with 500 million users, there are still people not comfortable with the idea of revealing themselves online and opening yet another social outlet. There are also people who have started a Facebook or Twitter account, but later became overwhelmed and closed the account; many of those same people later returned.

And one of the most avid celebrity users of Twitter, John Mayer said goodbye to his 3.7 million followers this week declaring his “blackout” from Twitter so he could focus on writing a new album.

Are we better for having social networks in our lives or not?

Following these blackout trends is a central Pennsylvania technological college that is conducting an experiment that means their 800 students and staff has to cut-off ties to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other social networks. The social network site domains are blocked; however, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology students and staff still have access to e-mail, texting and other Web surfing, the Associated Press reported.

The social network blackout comes following a comScore research report that found Web users in the U.S. spend more time socializing on Facebook than searching with Google, according to data released last week.

One 22-year-old student told the AP that not having access to the social networking sites has helped her focus on her school work. “I feel obligated to check my Facebook. I feel obligated to check my Twitter. Now I don’t,” Harris said. “I can just solely focus.”

Yet, some experts say that the disconnect from social media is rarely long-term as it has created too many efficiencies for users.

And ironically, Sherrie Madia, communications director for the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, spoke at the Harrisburg’s social media summit, which was held mid-blackout.

She said the hype around the social network ban “has started a much-needed conversation about effective use of social media and how to balance online life with the world offline,” the AP reported. “Do we really want to be enslaved to Facebook or Twitter?” Madia said. “Once you create anything in social media, you have to feed the beast. When you stop adding content, you disappear.”

Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company´┐Żs strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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