Image by Phoney Nickle via Flickr
by Frank Reed
As human beings we are not limitless in our ability to do anything. The physical laws of nature and the physical limitations of our bodies bind us. We can stretch these laws and test the limits, but to this point in time at least, we have run up against our boundaries time and time again. Of course, that hasn’t stopped us from still trying to get past these limits. In fact, it seems to be quite the opposite at times. We want to move past our limitations because we fear that we are missing something. It’s something that has yet to be created or discovered. We perceive that it sits in the future waiting for us, that it is better than what we currently have and it’s just up to the human race to come and get it. Nowhere is this more true than in the ways we use the Internet–it’s a fantastic resource. But when does “more” become too much?
I am starting to feel like we are dangerously close to our limitations in Internet usage already. As an experiment, I went into my Password Keeper section on my Blackberry and counted how many passwords to various online properties I have. This includes personal and business sites that require a password for me to get on them. The total was 179 different username and password combinations. Even I got a little drop-jawed at that number.
I started to look at the sites that I had entered and realized that most were done for the sake of research or for the sake of a momentary need. I also realized that I actually use about 10 percent or so (at the most) of those sites on a regular basis. I then realized as well, that all of those online entities, including the 90% of the sites that I simply don’t use any more, include me in their numbers for total accounts. I wonder how many more of me are out there when it comes to creating one time, hollow accounts that beef up a site’s numbers?
The point of the matter is this. We spend so much time trying to race to the next outpost on the Internet superhighway that we really don’t even know what we have on our hands. We keep adding more and more information and data to people who are likely to be overloaded already.This is the reason that there are not more social media and social networking sites the size and scope of Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. People can’t handle any more. There is likely to never be more than three major players in this space because people can’t deal with more than that. Look at the decline in MySpace numbers over the past few years, as Facebook and Twitter shove them to the back of the line.
Sure, there will be niche networking opportunities out the wazoo for people to pick from but ultimately they will have to choose which one, two, or at most three communities that they will truly be engaged in, because we, as human beings, can’t handle more than that and do it well. There will be exceptions to that rule, but the exceptions will never be the rule. People are going to start making hard choices about where their valuable time is best spent. God knows we waste enough time now as it is. No wonder the US is falling behind in so many critical measures of success. We’ve overloaded ourselves into an information coma. Nice move. Next stop: flatline.
So what does it mean for the Internet marketing community? That’s the question du jour. No one knows, but I suspect that every Internet marketing “expert” and practitioner is going to have to make a choice as where they will concentrate the bulk of their efforts. The most important decision a marketer will make is what community will they concentrate on and really dig into. You cannot be all things to all people, so why are we even trying? Those who go too wide will perish because they will lose their true brand or identity because of the “all things to all people” approach. It doesn’t work. Personally, I don’t want everything, so stop trying to be my buddy!
Ultimately, the pendulum may swing in the other direction. Like people who have taken a minimalist approach to material possessions there may be a minimalist approach to information. Sure, information is power, but at the end of the day power is a sickness. It corrupts and destroys ultimately. I don’t want to take in too much data so it makes me sick.
I’m starting to push back from the table and concentrate on the things that truly mean something rather than pursue those that claim to be something. It’s my survival mechanism in this Age of Excess. Less is the new more for me.
Excuse me, now, while I step back from the computer and play with my kids. Thankfully, I can never get too much of that.