Are You a Nosy Neighbor?

by Jennifer Miller on August 17, 2009

in Personal Effectiveness, Social Media

Are you a nosy person? I wouldn’t typically describe myself this way.  On any given day, I go about my work, mind my own business and basically try to respect people’s right to privacy.

Except that doesn’t seem to apply to my social media use.   At what point did I turn into Mrs. Kravitz? (You know, from the sitcom Bewitched…the ultra-nosy snooping neighbor that lived across the street from Darrin and Samantha Stephens.) For some reason, I’ve become Need-to-Know Lady, especially with Twitter.  There I am, logging in to Twitter again…checking to see what my tweeps are up to.

Social media is really pushing us to examine our boundaries.  News articles are starting to pop up about families sitting at the dinner table, all texting, IM’ing or Twittering on their respective cell phones.  That’s a sobering thought.

The other day, though, I had an epiphany.  I don’t need to know what everybody is doing, 24/7, nor should I want to.  I can’t possibly know what all of my non-Twitter friends are doing or saying at any given moment.  So, it’s OK to miss some of the Tweet stream. In fact it’s ok to miss lots of it. Comic Stephen Wright says, “You can’t have it all.  Where would you put it?” That’s a good mantra for social media use too—“You can’t read it all. And why would you want to?”

So for now, when I’m tempted to check in, I remind myself, “You don’t need to know this right now… it can wait.  And if you miss something, it will come back around to find you in a different way.”

What are your tips for managing the urge to “check in” more often than’s necessary?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer August 17, 2009 at 1:02 pm


It’s so very hard to get to that place where you feel it’s ok for things to pass you by. For me, it stems from a combo of curiosity AND the desire to “check things off the list”.

Thanks for chiming in….

Lisa Rosendahl August 17, 2009 at 4:16 pm

It is so hard to miss out on things and like you said – to get to a place where it is ok to let things pass you by. It would be so easy to let Twitter, Facebook consume you (me!) that I have to keep coming back to using social media to compliment my life – not control it. I personally am still swirling in it’s midst as I play with the right balance and determine my goals – building connections and relationships, yes – but to what end?

Jennifer August 17, 2009 at 4:38 pm


You are right– it’s an ever-evolving balancing act. Regarding “who’s in control?”– I’m envisioning a huge dog being “walked” by it’s owner. A passerby wonders, “Who’s walking whom?”

Barbara Giamanco August 18, 2009 at 6:59 am

Great post, Jennifer! Just because we can doesn’t necessarily mean that we should, and I wonder how many people allow themselves to get sucked in as a way of avoiding or tackling that which is really most important.

My simple trick…decide what’s important and stick to it. I love social media, AND I manage technology – I do not allow it to manage me. I know clearly what I want to accomplish when I log in, so I get in and get out and move on with the day.

It reminds me of how people used to ask “how I could ignore the telephone at the office when it rang”, which I often did (and do!) if I had an important project or business objective to accomplish. My answer – just because the phone rang did not mean that I was required to answer it in that moment. It’s the same with email or Twitter or whatever. I “turn off” alerts, because they will tempt you to to stop what you are doing to check out the message and before you know it you’ve blown 30 minutes or more. This attitude takes practice and discipline, and it isn’t always easy.

I don’t need to know what’s happening in the world of Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook 24/7. Honestly, I don’t actually care. I keep up when I need too and manage information on my own terms.

As for the texting, IM and tweets at dinner…well, that’s a rant for another day:)

Jennifer August 20, 2009 at 8:09 am

Dee, yes it IS crazy-making. I love your idea about the RSS and it goes to Barb’s suggestion of getting clear about what you want your social media use to do for you.

You also highlight a great point that I’m finally figuring out– social media connects you to LOTS of people, but the reality is that there’s a smaller sub-set that you are most drawn to. Just as not every person in your office is your favorite person, so it is with social media. Focus on those that give you energy, are willing to collaborate and share information. The rest of the folks may be interesting, but simply not people that are meant to be in your daily life.

Jane September 15, 2009 at 6:43 pm

There’s a certain saneness to the word ‘moderation’. Short answer motivators like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, are quick glance & type solutions to our world that runs at a frenetic pace. Communication by USPS or face to face takes time. Even the phone call and email are time consuming so we gravitate toward a quicker vehicle for sending and receiving our messages. But at a price. The short moments turn into, ‘just one more peek, just one more tweep, just a few more glance overs’. Even the quick methods take time so we begin the painful weaning process. Sometimes, I wonder what we are losing in there in that time warp. Maybe we should take the time to go visit, write that card, make that phone call – or then again maybe we can have it all, but need to prioritize and figure out what to keep and what to let go – above all else, relationships are what matter. We don’t need to know it all, all the time. Maintaining and preserving relationships is a balancing act – comprised of letters, phone calls, twitter, personal visits, facebook, email – let the circle continue. You get to choose how big to make it and who to let inside it.

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