> Of course, there's also the fact that people email/IM/FB others simply because they can, whether they have anything of import to say or not. You'd think twice if you had to walk over to somebody's cube to show them a picture of a cat, but you wouldn't blink an eye to post an article with the same content to 100 people on FB.
Daniel, thanks for talking about this, because it's made me realize how different people's perspectives are when it comes to this technology. I started using IM in seventh grade, and for me it's always been a tool for social distraction. Recently I've started using it for business and for thesis interviews, but I still don't turn it on unless I'm expecting small talk with friends. Ditto Facebook, which was created my sophomore year in high school and the point of which was to give other people opportunities to small talk with you. If I say ten trivial things a day, then other people have ten chances to start a conversation they might not have started otherwise. I dated a girl who I basically met on Facebook Chat, and I strengthened a lot of friendships with people I rarely saw IRL but bullshitted with online a lot. Yet this is social behavior rather than productive. Its only aim is conversation.
Of course, this social software also makes it much harder to pay attention to work, which is why I dropped Facebook for Google+ and now am slowly phasing away from Google+ too. It's a shame that these social sites don't differentiate play from meaningful construction. Come up with a way of filtering people's noise from their signal, so that you can decide: do I want to see important information? Or do I want a lot of time-wasting bullshit? (There is a time for such things, I feel; I've tried cutting it out of my life entirely but it's no fun to be all business all the time.) Perhaps this is a problem that should be solved by using two separate mediums for communication, but that's inconvenient.
Anyway, it's food for thought, and it's going to make me reconsider how freely I fling nonsense around the internet. Thank you.