Over the weekend, a friend’s request for something caused me to realize that I’ve been a member of Google+ for a long time — since it was launched, I think — and I cannot remember the last time I checked it. I haven’t shut my Google+ account down because … I don’t know why.
I use my Twitter account sparingly, but I’m just amazed by how much so many of my friends use it, and how adept they are at it. I can’t keep up with the deluge in my Twitter feed, and pretty much only read the last 30 messages whenever I check it. I’ve been tweeting for over a year, and only this weekend figured out how the direct messaging system works. People have been sending me direct messages on Twitter for ages, and I never saw them. I could do without Twitter, but I keep it because, well, everybody else has it.
I have been a member of LinkedIn for years, but I can’t think of a single time that I’ve used it. Not once. Probably 19 out of every 20 LinkedIn requests I get are from people I don’t know at all, not even tangentially. I’ve tried to keep LinkedIn relatively clear by not accepting invitations from people I don’t know, but I have a bad conscience about it, and hey, why should I refuse their invitations? It’s not like I ever use LinkedIn.
Facebook, that’s hopeless. I began using it more this year, when my book came out, and I find that I like keeping up with my friends on it. But I accept almost every invitation to be somebody’s friend. Result: I’d say 80 to 90 percent of my Facebook friends are people I don’t know. I almost never look at my FB feed now, because it takes too long to sort through it to find posts from the people I really care about.
By the way, I have three e-mail accounts, and reams of unanswered e-mails stacked up in them. It’s not that I haven’t read them all; I’ve read most of them, it’s just that I’ve saved them thinking I would answer the e-mails, but never got around to it. On my private email account, I have at this moment 745 e-mails stacked up. It frequently happens that the people who write me e-mails that I really want to respond to, and set aside until I have time to write something really thoughtful in response, never hear from me; the fact that I set their e-mail aside precisely because I wanted to respond at length is what causes those e-mails to drop way down my queue. All the time I’ll get an e-mail from someone saying, “I had written you a while back, but you never responded, so I thought…” etc. Sure enough, I’ll do a search, and there that person’s original e-mail will be, either in my queue or in my spam bucket (AOL, which hosts my main e-mail account, can be weird about what it shunts into spam).
I couldn’t do without e-mail, so that’s just a problem I’ll have to live with. But if aliens dropped a bomb tomorrow that wiped out Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+, it would change my life almost not at all, except by removing four sources of anxiety over all the information I’m not managing. There ought to be a word for the anxiety one feels over all the information one is not managing.