The two pieces that prompted this thought are from Seth Godin and Alexandra Samuel. Godin's piece is about marketers' (mis)use of social media and the noise it creates. While not directly the problem I'm pointing to, I believe it speaks to the same push-pull of fascination and uncertainty around social media that generates endless (and mostly vacuous) reflections. For marketers, indeed, the imperative is to use social media, any social media, to increase their numbers of fans, friends, and followers regardless of content or the reasons why. The underlying rationale Godin seems to identify is, the more tweets, posts, or other words, the more followers -- while the real result, as he says, is actually just more volume, or noise.
The second piece also speaks to the allure of increasing numbers in social media, though for Alexandra Samuel it is more about personal benchmarking -- again, though, of friends, fans, or followers, in raw numbers or composites like Klout. Her response takes the form of ten commandments for social media sanity in 2012. Threading through the list is a desire to escape the measurement trap and even the resulting dehumanization she sees such benchmarking as possibly contributing to. While that more far-reaching claim deserves a longer discussion than is offered in her post, it does speak to the potential stakes of incessant social media navel-gazing. That all may be worth a resolution, or at least some offline reflections, as the new year approaches.