Facebook: it’s a love-hate relationship isn’t it? It’s like a bad boyfriend you can’t stop going back to.
Facebook: it’s a love-hate relationship isn’t it? It’s like a bad boyfriend you can’t stop going back to. On the one hand, it’s great for catching up on what your university friends have been up to this Christmas, poring over holiday pictures and finding out who has recently split up with whom. Yet on the other hand, Facebook is full of statuses that one could really do without. Is it really necessary to know how you cooked your dinner with a picture to follow? On top of that, it seems as if many are viewing Facebook as a diary, with that person you met once at a party poring all their thoughts and feelings on its status, leaving the reader cringing and wondering whether to unsubscribe or unfriend.
With more and more users choosing to leave Facebook, it begs the question: has our love affair with Facebook finished?
With Forbes magazine reporting a 1.1 percent decline in Facebook users, it seems as if Facebook is on the slow path to decline. A recent study suggests that the US population is already growing weary of Facebook, with 37 percent of users admitting they don’t check it on a daily basis and 52 percent planning to spend less time on it in the future.
Perhaps a decline in Facebook users may be due to the act of bragging which these social networking sites encourage. Bragging used to be limited to social occasions, yet now it takes just a click of the mouse to view statuses about academic achievements, photographs of recent beach holidays and casual name dropping of last night’s trendy new bar. People use technology to manipulate their public persona, presenting themselves as positively as possible. Thus is it any wonder that the girl you knew at school (who, let’s face it, was no Kate Moss) has used Photoshop to slim and tan herself to such lengths that she looks like a different person?
With this boastfulness encouraging people to portray their lives as one never-ending party, it seems logical that Facebook has been linked to depression, with many people left feeling low after a social networking ‘fix’. David Smallwood, addiction manager at London’s Priory Clinic, states ‘if you’re anxious or depressed, seeing all these people supposedly having such a good time can make you feel worse.’ Thus, feelings of inferiority may have resulted in people becoming fed up and removing themselves off social networking sites for good.
Facebook’s acquisition of recognition software Face.com could have also negated its users’ trust in the privacy element of the site. Facebook benefits from people sharing certain parts of themselves with information such as their birthdays, education background and personal photos being readily available at just a click of the mouse. Perhaps those keen to protect their privacy have removed themselves off it, not wanting employers and companies to have such easily accessible personal data.
Conversely, the rise of Twitter may have something to do with Facebook’s decline. Facebook doesn’t seem to serve a purpose like this alternative method of social networking does. Twitter regularly updates news, can help careers and even lead to new friends and relationships. While Facebook is perhaps impersonal and homogenised, Twitter allows you to directly connect with the people who inspire you, such as musicians and artists. On Twitter it is also not as easy to create an inflated self-image, instead of looking at photographs, the first thing people do is check a following number and those with the largest number of followers are deemed worthy enough. Additionally, Twitter, in complete contrast to Facebook, allows you to create a network of similarly minded people who applaud your grandiose statuses, re-tweeting and favouriting them.
Or maybe Facebook’s decline was inevitable due to it being a product of consumer culture. It is a fleeting trend rather than a necessity. Deterred by course mates, parents, colleagues and primary school friends all jumping on the bandwagon, the people that shaped it to be that trend may have left, leading it to unavoidably dismantle. Just as winter fashion trends such as studs and embellishments are flung to the back of the cupboard next season, Facebook is flung to the back of our memories.
One thing is for sure: Twitter may well be rising, but can learn a lot from Facebook’s journey—it too may well become another victim of the social networking trends.
Image courtesy of Flickr user English106