I keep reading how Facebork, sorry, I really should call it Facebook like the owners do, is dying.
First, it was the children. Horrified that mum, dad, and grandparents were also on Facebork, the kids started their migration away, leaving their Facebork accounts for only ‘family business’, presenting a sterilised version of what was really going on in their lives.
It is possible to set-up different sharing levels on Facebork, to ensure that ‘old people’ don’t see the mucky stuff, but since most people are updating their timeline (why do some still insist in calling it a ‘wall‘?) from their mobile phones, making sure the ‘old people’ can’t see your photos of you vomiting at a party, or discussing how fuckable Lady Gaga is, can be over-complex and lead to errors. Then Great Aunt Betty reads the stuff that she really really shouldn’t.
So, the youth have a solution. A bit like how older folks like me keep a website active whilst going away to play on social media (and indeed, putting far more content on social media), they shift to other social media for the more unrestricted stuff. They shift to social media more oriented to mobile phones and not so accessible from the desktop.
Instagram is dangerously stalkable by parents (and is part of Facebork) but Snapchat is very secretive and away from prying eyes. Personally, I’ve always dismissed Snapchat as just for making quick videos of my penis and sending them to others (ideally not my Great Aunt Betty), but I am informed that Snapchat is for a lot more than that. As is Vine, and BBM. Or WhatsApp.
Hey, I use WhatsApp a lot. I even paid for it. £2-something for 5 years. Well worth it, and far superior to standard text, MMS and that kinda stuff for shifting files from phone to phone. And I use it for family conversations. But it’s very one-to-one compared to the ‘broadcasting‘ of Twitter or ‘narrowcasting‘ of Facebook, erm, I meant Facebork. Like BBM, though, WhatsApp allows for the setting up of group chats/shares, and the exclusion of Great Aunt Betty from all but the sanitised group. Or, ideally, not mentioning to Great Aunt Betty that there is a BBM or a WhatsApp.
I said ‘broadcasting‘ when speaking of Twitter. That’s what Twitter is. It’s a way of broadcasting something to a maximum, maybe an infinite number of people, especially if they read Twitter via #hashtags or keyword searches. That way steps over the need for people to be ‘Friends’ or ‘followers’.
In contrast of course, Facebork by default is ‘narrowcasting‘ only to ‘Friends’. For most people this means a closed never changing audience of a few hundred souls. And, since it doesn’t serve everything that’s written to all the Friends all the time, and dependant on how the Friends treat seeing what you’ve written, the actual audience is ever decreasing. Most Facebork users plonking something on their timeline will only have their brilliant tale, observation or photo, looked at by 10% of their Friends. Hence, ‘narrowcasting‘ to a limited audience is the best way to describe the Facebook experience. Maybe that’s why usage is dwindling.
We started by saying Facebork was losing the youth. Now, it appears the older generations are going as well. Well, they are spending less and less time on Facebork.
The mystery is what they are doing instead. Not shuffling off to Google+ as anoraks of this wonderful platform might hope (or fear, since who really wants the kind of crap people post on Facebork posted on Google+?). Nor are they using the brilliant multi-platform Google Hangouts experience (best invention evah!). No, they seem to be just disappearing. Maybe social media is taking less of their time because they have rediscovered real life. You know, talking to human beings face-to-face, and stuff.
And so 80% of the users will have deserted Facebork over the next 2 or 3 years, they forecast. But, where will they go?
Humans have always had social media. It goes back to before the internet. Heck, who remembers telephone chatlines, or CB radio, or random penpals, or whatever went before? Yes, it was all social media of its kind. I think we will always need social media, and we have always needed it. It’s part of who we are.
So where’s everybody going? Maybe people are self regulating. Remember the stories of people staying up all night on CB radios, or running up huge phone bills from the chatlines? That was from the pure addiction to those forms of social media, and not wanting to miss out on whatever it might be that one might miss out. Facebork used to be like that too. Maybe we are maturing and taking offline time.
Me, personally, I spend a lot of time ‘offline’. I feel it enriches my reality. And, this is an evolution from being an ‘always on’ kinda guy checking my emails as they came in, constantly faffing about on this or that. Maybe everybody is evolving this way. No?
If the droves no longer using Facebork are not enjoying self-imposed down time, then where have they gone?
OMG, is there a new social media network somewhere I’m not part of, not using, missing out on? I’d better go and search for it. Don’t want to miss out.