Facebook overload?

(ABC7) When is information too much information? These days it's all the rage to be socially connected through Facebook and Twitter, but some people are finding it can be irritating to be plugged in.

People connected through Facebook seem to have a megaphone at their fingertips.

"I'll look and they'll just be like post and post and post," said student Garrett Stout.

The idea is simple: each user creates a personal page on the Web site that contains a user picture, perhaps some contact information and a list of interests.

Users can also use the site to swap pictures, play games or just simply reconnect with others. But Facebook and other social networking sites aren't just for friends anymore.

These sites are increasingly becoming an inexpensive marketing tool for businesses. David Guy uses his personal pages to feature his tattoos.

"You don't even have to have a Web site anymore, you can just use free social networking websites and promote whatever business you have...to an unlimited audience."

The audience is accessible with the click of a mouse. That's how easily users can get their Facebook fix and in an instant, stay connected to everyone, everywhere.

"Technology has just exploded so much to where we're always connected to everyone at all times," Stout said.

And these days, younger users are having to make room for mom and dad, bosses and co-workers. Even professors are guilty of logging on.

Sam Riccillo is a communications professor at UTEP. Ironically, he admits social networking has triggered a downfall in his own communication skills.

"In the morning, I make a pot of coffee, and then go immediately to my computer. I don't even kiss my wife before I turn on the computer," Riccillo said.

Social networking addictions do exist, he says.

But he says there are a few ground rules to follow if you think your social networking is becoming a social problem. First, easy on the updates.

"'Hey, I'm in class, hey I'm outta class.' It's like always updating where you are, is it really necessary...noooo," Stout said.

You may also want to leave personal fights offline. Even Ysleta ISD board trustee Liza Montelongo realized something was wrong when board president Marty Reyes dropped her on Facebook.

Finally, mind your manners.

"Just about every dinner I go to, even just meeting up with a person, they'll just be like 'oh, excuse me' texting away, or, oh I need to update my Twitter," Stout said.

But Ricillo said users really just need to figure out how these sites fit into their lives. "This is the future. We should be teaching people how to use Internet sources."

"It's all in your hands, so if you're gonna let it get to you, that's your own fault. You can't blame anybody," Guy said.

Whether it's a useful tool or an addictive waste of time, there is no doubt Facebook and other social networking sites are having a dramatic impact on the way we communicate and the way we connect with the rest of the world.

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