The Social Networker

by Chris Miller at 11:22:00 AM on Tuesday, March 11th, 2008
Virtual gratification.  What does it include (but not limited to)?
  • the sound of the email arriving
  • the ping of an IM
  • the chirp of a SMS
  • a new wall posting in Facebook
  • a podcast (ie: TheSocialNetworker podcast) gets released
  • even the hopes that your favorite Twitter client shows a new posting
  • the constant refresh of PlanetLotus/FriendFeed/LinkRiver/NewsPond/Shyfte/etc as you watch the blogs
  • watching strangers on Yahoo Live or Qik

Then begins the rush as you open each one and the immediate let down once you read it, respond to it and click the delete or ignore key.  You then enter wait state again  How much of this represents your day?

If this sounds familiar, as I know it does, then you suffer from a new syndrome. VGS.  There, I said it.  Virtual Gratification Syndrome.  I am sure that you have it. You know you have it.  You want to shake it.  How do you function in your day as it constantly sucks you into your vibrating Blackberry, making little ringtone sounds and "bing-ing" on your computers?  Your family dreads you bringing any of your devices to the table, knowing you only respond to them with a grunt or glance.  Your right thumb hurts as you spin the wheel or rollerball.  You can text a T9 message without looking.  You check email before you eat, shower or roll out of the bed.  VGS.  Sometimes, the things you read changes  your entire mood for the rest of the day.  You follow people like Jason Calacanis as he drives his car on Qik.  You have long conversations over Tweets with someone you have never met.  So can we beat it?

My independent study shows that the younger generation cannot escape it once they are exposed to it.  My independent study consisted of my teenage kids, my low 20's in age brother and watching people in general at airports, malls and whatever.  So is this scientific? No.  Is it any the more false? No.

I know once a year I totally disconnect for a week.  I have successfully done this for 10 years now.  Does that fix VGS?  Heck no.  It only delays the inevitable of me spending days trying to catch up to the swarm of information I try to consume on a daily basis.

Some people have recently declared email bankruptcy, only to fall into email debt soon after.  One IBM'er (Louis Suarez at has stopped using email as any form of communication over the past 4 weeks.  Read his postings to see how he has gotten on using other tools.  I think that falls further into VGS thinking about it more.

For those of you that:
  • follow me on Twitter
  • contact me over IM channels
  • see my bookmarks on many social bookmark sites
  • read my blogs
  • listen to my podcasts
you would know that email is not a prime choice for me.  My email flow has slowed and instant gratification has stepped in with more force.  Things like Facebook quickly lost their appeal.  Voicemail is quite passe and my actual voicemail message says I do not check it often so don't bother leaving one if you need something right away.  So what are the next steps?

I posted on my IdoNotes blog a few weeks ago part 1 of how I am kicking the Facebook habit.  It worked so far.  I only logged into Facebook the past couple months for those private email messages someone might send or a friend invite.  I got past the Facebook messages with Digsby, a new consolidated IM and social tool.  I have broken the Facebook habit with forcing other feeds, such as Twitter and blog rss entries, as my status updates.  From there I am building a better social network flow so I can post once or twice and get everything updated all across the net.

I am not sure yet what step #3 will be, that will be a soon to follow blog posting.  I can't type anymore as my VGS is kicking in..

  • 1) Virtual Gratification Syndrome (VGS) - you have it
    Created by Laura Whitehead at 03/11/2008 12:14:08 PM email | website

    Hi Chris, another great post. I think I could easily self certify myself with this. Email (and Facebook) doesn't work for me any longer though. It's the ping of Twitter that I resonate with most. I've only been using Twitter since last summer, and it has become my staple item for keeping uptodate with the blogosphere globally, overtaken my RSS reading and keeps my connected too. Others I'll try and they work, then lose their appeal.

    I've been following Louis Suarez posts on giving up organisational email too which have been quite inspiring and would love to implement this in my 'day job' organisation but it will be a slow process for adoption amongst all of us. Small bridges are being stepped over, but only little ones and very gently. Building the better social network flow is very true, and hope that you can keep on top of your VGS too!

  • 2) Virtual Gratification Syndrome (VGS) - you have it
    Created by Corvida at 03/11/2008 2:18:04 PM email | website

    This is not only hilarious and witty, but definitely something we all should consider, especially early adopters and those who are working on more than one social network.

    I'll declare RSS bankruptcy if I've been offline long enough with no problem and I can fortunately go days offline because I never have any pressing work online! Thank God this is a hobby for me and not a full time job (yet?).

  • 3) Virtual Gratification Syndrome (VGS) - you have it
    Created by Matt at 03/11/2008 11:36:55 PM email |

    ahhh... it's so true isn't it. I know I'm addicted to VGS!

    "How much of this represents your day?" All of it ... the hardest time is watching my Shyftr feed list at 1am on a Saturday ... the blogosphere goes off the radar for about 6 hours a week... lol... i suppose i should take that as a hint to go get some sleep. ;)

  • 4) Virtual Gratification Syndrome (VGS) - you have it
    Created by Victor Toal at 03/12/2008 3:34:34 PM email |

    Chris, in the words of the great Austion Powers "You make it sound so dirty, darling - randy, yeah!" ...

    Wonder if the pope is gong to add this to the new 7 social sins and make the 8th: "Thou shalst not overly socialize on god-less electonic networks"

  • 5) Virtual Gratification Syndrome (VGS) - you have it
    Created by ms danielle at 03/24/2008 3:58:44 PM email | website

    i try very hard to deny my VGS and i've even set my adium preferences so i don't hear the sounds of IM's coming, or visual notices when people log on and off. needless to say, it takes a lot for me to close my buddy list...

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