Culture September 10, 2016
Before stepping into this digitally-driven culture, many young men and women weren’t allowed to sign up for Facebook until around the eighth grade. Years ago, the site was a novelty. It was like AIM messaging on steroids – a magical online land where you could connect with friends and acquaintances, post your thoughts and reconnect with old pals from around the world.
Ten years later, Facebook is no longer what it once was. More people than ever before have accounts, but the rise of multiple new social media businesses is leaving Facebook gathering dust in a corner. The combined daily active users (DAU) of trending sites such as Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter are beginning to surpass Facebook’s daily log-ins. Throw in another app vying for millennial attention, Pokemon Go!, and Facebook’s DAU is just barely keeping pace with the vast expanse of social media traffic. So what is pushing this once wonderland of a website to the edge?
Politics, work life, personal turmoil – lately there has been no filter on Facebook. Some people think they are top political analysts during this election cycle. One or two posts is understandable, but updating your status every 10 minutes with an essay about how America is going to burn to the ground after the general election … It’s too much.
But the oversharing doesn’t stop there. Besides political updates, people are also inclined to share every detail about their personal lives on Facebook. Posting emotional Nickleback songs post-breakup with the caption, “Thinking about how great we used to be” is not what most men and women want to see on their timelines.
In fact, according to a 2012 study inquiring “Why do people use Facebook?,” these oversharers were not found to have a higher response rate on their drama-driven posts. And when reactions are elicited from their friends and followers, they are often negative, resulting in unfollowing and even the dreaded unfriending. And when you’re no longer interested in the musings of your Facebook friends, the whole purpose of utilizing Facebook to remain connected is undermined.
The most common criminals on Facebook are parents. Always charged with making cool things uncool, these technologically challenged adults just want to stay connected with their children or their friends from high school. Facebook used to be one of those places where young people could get away from their parents. It’s just not the same anymore with multiple watchdogs reporting your recent status back to mom.
As early as 2015, there have been reports on the online existence of Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers driving the millennial exodus from Facebook. With the ubiquitous presence of moms and dads, most teens today won’t even make a Facebook profile to begin with. Instead, they find themselves the aforementioned newcomers to the world of social media beyond Facebook. Here, they can find more like-minded people stylistically, rather than just accruing all the friends they already have. You know, like your parents would do.
When the template of a website changes every few weeks, users are bound to get annoyed. We tepidly welcome change. We know that change is necessary…but to an extent. It becomes an issue when changes are so frequent or so drastic that the users don’t understand how to use the product anymore. People can become less active on the website when they are sick of dealing with continual updates to the newsfeed, messaging, notifications and a number of other tools. The Facebook mobile app is an even worse culprit than the site itself, revising every two weeks without providing a detailed outline of the changes in its update description.
Just this week, a local Dallas news station found it necessary to inform their viewers and readers about some of the Facebook features that active users are unlikely to know. These examples range from minor changes that can be made on your profile, such as featuring a name pronunciation guide, to settings that can change the entire browsing experience, like removing targeted ads.
All of these hidden tricks that make the app and the site more user-friendly are not initially accessible, driving away some of those older users congregating at Facebook for its long-established reputation. This also negatively impacts young users, quickly turning them to other social media sites which have already perfected the feature that Facebook is attempting to expand.
While the droves of young (and sometimes older) people leaving Facebook are reflective of these complaints, the fall of Facebook is unlikely to be immediate. The website does have its problems, but billions of users still frequent the site online and through the mobile app. And we can still expect it to grow as the years go on, especially as it extends its reach into video with Facebook Live and news with the trending section. Thus, a resurgence may even be impending, starting with technologically-savvy millennials who are just beginning to raise their own families. They might very well regress from more innovative social media in favor of the tried and true Facebook.
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