There is way too much noise in social media. Real time streams, tons of data, too many friends and too many updates means that this noise is everywhere you go. You can either try and keep up with it all - which results in you not doing any actual work, - having a life, or you can selectively dip into your social networks accepting that you are going to be missing most of the good stuff.
That could all have changed yesterday with the launch of a new feature on Google+ called "volume control". It essentially lets you turn the volume up or down on your various streams to customize what you get to see. This isn't necessarily new because filters for your streams have been around on other social networks for some time, but the user interface and the volume button are certainly new. It now feels easy to modify your stream, and if your family and friends are getting too noisy, you can just turn them down.
The big problem is that this is on Google+ where nobody is really going to see it. The good news is that when something this good comes along, the other big social networks inevitably copy it. It is not too unrealistic to think that if this takes off, we could see something very similar on Facebook and Twitter. Imagine being able to turn down the volume on people within your Twitter stream speaking about X Factor or even sports events. Facebook has its friends lists but there is so much manual work involved there, most people can't be bothered. The simple volume control button makes it easy, quick and intuitive.
By no stretch of the imagination would I say this is the full solution, but having a volume control button on a social network is something new and I think it is a great step forward. Hopefully, consumers will have the trust to use something like this and won't worry about it filtering out the wrong information and potentially missing stuff.
At the end of the day, there is simply too much information to absorb in social media at the moment, and it can't go on like this for much longer as our brains are forced to consume vast streams of information. This might not be the final solution and it is certainly on the wrong social network, but it is a great step in the right direction.