Social Networking Burnout: Digital Fatigue

Posted by Flux on 

7 August 2012

What’s trending now?

Social Networks have brought with them such interesting and diverse ways in which individuals relate and make sense of the world. Arguably through these networks the world seems to be in conversation with itself, dialogue is more interactive and individuals have rightfully found platforms to have their say and be more vocal than ever. We have become digital natives of a digitally liberal world, immersed in online culture.

There comes a point, albeit as digital natives, that one gets a tad bit overwhelmed. Our digital reflex, almost called to action through our devices screaming for attention is being exhausted. In turn, this constant utilisation of the digital reflex leads to fatigue.  This digital fatigue will soon be diagnosed into a syndrome with more and more people suffering from this kind of fatigue.

Why it’s important?

Our lives have become entangled in this great web of connectivity and the touch point accessibility to information seems more heightened. We like by means of Facebook, we converse in short bursts of mirco-blogs (Twitter), we scrapbook via Pinterest, chart our movements by signing in through Foursquare, network via LinkedIn and so it goes.
Streams of information constantly being processed incoming through digital avenues means that  we are constantly networking/interacting on overdrive.

This particularly tiresome trend has been forecast for the future, in a climate where all digital technology will be networked and synced via Wi-Max networks. Truth of the matter is digital fatigue syndrome is already seeping into the consciousness of digital users today.

Recent research suggests that 1 in 3 Facebook users are spending less time on the network. The reason?  The survey indicates that 34%  of respondents found Facebook was now “boring” “not relevant” or “not useful”.  This is strong indication that digital overload is in actual fact happening already and more people in future will express this same sentiment.  With additional players entering the market with more niche platforms to curb the influx; what online users and digital natives should expect is a barrage of options. There are so many options already at our disposal: Zorpia, Habbo, Classmates, Ning, Digg, Pinterest, Friendster.  Life is going to get busier, more intricately digital and increasingly taxing; we will see special attention to this kind of fatigue.

The pioneers?

We are beginning to see solutions in response to the threat of this digital fatigue/social networking burnout.  More people are resorting to automation and syndication to avoid the strain of managing numerous social networking profiles. Web sites like, OnlyWire and Hellotxt enable users to duplicate content across multiple networking sites with a predetermined distribution plan.

Other sites such as Socialoomph and Twitresponse allow users to draft responses and postings in advance and decide when those messages should be distributed.

Because at times this digital reflex is just that, a reflex; there is also a productivity application that blocks the internet called Freedom. Therefore if one cannot curb the impulse; a self-imposed rehab can also be enforced.

In future, I can’t help but envision a society where there will be specialist positions for people to manage personal digital profiles simply because the high-powered will have no energy to navigate the Wi-Max Networks. That’s if this isn’t already happening, which I suspect it is.
Spa treatments will come in the form of Digital Detoxes and subsistence holidays will be tailor-made as an escapist getaway from all the digital cacophony.

The global hotspot? 
Hotspots for this kind of fatigue will be smart-phones, meta watches and the digital space with all its Wi-Max networks all in sundry.

By: Saint – Francis Tohlang


About Saint – Francis


Saint-Francis is a cultural student of life; keenly perceptive and observant of shapers of culture and the post-modern climate. He is obsessed with contemporary culture and the human carnival. His research areas and interest are media markets and strategies, communications, youth culture, mobile culture and the online media ecology strongly rooted in an anthropological perspective.  Tohlang has an MA in Media from UCT.

Image credit: Gallo Images/ Getty Images

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