I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, especially with the introduction of WT.Social, a new social network from the co-founder of Wikipedia, which boasts about being a better alternative to the mainstream social networks. We all know those mainstream networks, and we’re all probably on them. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, but there’s a lot more out there, and sometimes I wonder if that’s becoming a problem.
Originally, Facebook introduced itself as the only social network you’ll ever need. Almost 14 years later, it doesn’t seem like that has happened. Smaller players have joined and left the field, even big players have. Google’s own Google+ lasted 7 years, and let’s not forget Apple’s own iTunes Ping which lasted for a mere 2 years. But, others are hanging in there, like Tumblr, Reddit, and even WordPress.com has a social network element. They thrive on a loyal user base that prefers their product over others, and as Facebook continues to land on the wrong side of privacy, security, and marketing, no wonder other social networks are still thriving.
In the old days, we’d check probably just 1 social network probably just once a day, but now it’s more like 4 or 5 social networks 4 or 5 times a day (likely more). Is that a problem though? Is there an issue with having access to your friends and family, and a whole world of information, at all times? I believe that social media fatigue is real, so I suppose it all comes down to how you use them.
For me, I consider Twitter to be my primary social network, I’m on there and engaging the most, largely thanks to Twitterrific. I’m also on Instagram for photos, LinkedIn for business-y things, and reluctantly Facebook because that’s where I can connect with the most people I know. WordPress.com is in my life too, but that’s where I work, so I still consider it work. I am also now on Tumblr, but I’m just starting to get a feel for it. (Update: A few months later, I shared some thoughts on Tumblr.)
I have joined and thoroughly enjoy one alternative social network, MLTSHP (pronounced Malt Shop). It’s just a place where folks share fun images, GIFs, or videos they found around the internet. Think of it like a curated Tumblr or Reddit. It’s not free, there’s a small $3/year membership fee to keep all the junk out, and it works! Everyone there is kind and supportive, you’re immediately one of them just by joining, and anyone who joins with ill will is usually within hours of violating MLTSHP’s Code of Conduct anyway. The mainstream social networks are free and powered by advertising, you’re the product. MLTSHP is powered by that membership fee (and a $24/year upgrade for folks who want a few extras) and it’s entirely open source. You’ll never be the product at MLTSHP, and you could always fork it if it ever shut down, which is actually how MLTSHP was born from the ashes of MLKSHK (pronounced Milk Shake). You can follow folks there (like me), but the total membership is only in the hundreds, so you can go through the entire incoming feed once a day easily.
For me, MLTSHP makes up the missing piece of my social network collection. Twitter for engagement, Facebook for connections, LinkedIn for business connections, WordPress.com for work, and MLTSHP for fun. While I long for the unlikely days of 1 altruistic social network to rule them all, I think I’ve struck a good balance with these 5. Social networks will come and go. You should definitely try new things, but the best thing to do is to watch out for fatigue, however you handle that.
Update: I change how I use my social networks often, so rather than continue to update this time-stamped post, I’m keeping an up-to-date page here instead.