Following up on my post from yesterday, I was thinking about social networks in term of personal return on investment: for some of us there really isn’t any. It seems Dave Slusher has some of the same concerns, and cites a Scoble post for contributing to his opting out of the whole SNS thing. There’s wonderful symmetry here because it’s largely Scoble that got me even considering joining a SNS.
What I’ve decided is that SNS is a bad idea for me for the same reason it’s a good idea for Scoble. Scoble’s a pundit. His job is to connect to a lot of people, keep his eyes and ears open for the next new hotness, and then distribute that information via his various output channels. Nice work if you can get it. But it’s not my work. Trying to maintain even a single presence online for me is definitely more trouble than it’s “worth.” My ROI on this blog is certainly negative, both in the short term (hosting costs, opportunity costs for time spent on each post and tweak) and the long term (expressing my honest opinions will almost certainly cost me friends and business down the road, versus the relative safety of staying politely quiet or concentrating on a more traditional, less sincere “marketing strategy”).
From this perspective, if I join, I become basically a social network wage slave. I sacrifice my time, energy, privacy, etc. and contribute content to this “thing” that ultimately doesn’t benefit me, certainly not as much as it benefits the network itself, or power users in a certain niche, like Scoble. To be one of the mooing masses on a social network has exactly the same cost-benefit ratio of being a cow in any other sphere. The obvious argument against what I’m saying would be to contend that SNS is not a zero-sum game, that everyone gains and no one loses. I’m not buying it. Like Slusher, I don’t feel like there’s been one tangible benefit to me from SNS involvement, or for that matter from maintaining any kind of content-based online presence (most especially including this blog). And, like Slusher, I know there are a million better, more fulfilling things I could be doing with my time.