Is Facebook on the way out?
Society today is completely obsessed with the ‘next big thing’, that unattainable stroke of genius that always seems to bestow itself upon someone you wouldn’t expect. A prime example is Facebook, a multi-billion dollar company created by a drunk college student in his dorm room – or so the story goes.
Since its creation in 2004, Facebook has become a household name and is arguably the most successful social networking site out there. Facebook appeared to be going strong when the company announced it would be going public, but when stock prices hovered around the initial public offering price of $38 instead of rising, people began wondering what this could mean for the company. Is it possible that Facebook is actually dying out?
Ultimately, social networking relies on trends just like everything else in the world, but the hardest part about locating new trends is that most people can’t seem to think fast enough. By the time the rest of the world catches on to a popular fad, the early adopters have already moved on, leaving the remainder of the population to stumble after them.
These days, it’s teenagers who are at the front of this cycle, which really shouldn’t be a surprise. The combination of a small attention span and quick-to-judge attitude creates the perfect group to sift through new concepts and ideas and to decide what will catch on and what won’t. This theory is especially true when it comes to social networking trends, and teens are well qualified to pass judgment: 73 per cent of North American youth, aged 12-17, are on a social network, and 63 per cent of them access these sites every day.
Surprisingly, teenagers seem to be using Facebook less and less every day. Teens who used to update their status every hour are now only logging in every couple days to catch up with their ‘friends’, more often out of obligation than for entertainment. They’re moving on to other social networking sites like Twitter, which, according to Forrester Research, was the most popular social networking site among young people in 2011. Facebook is still extremely popular, and will most likely remain that way for the foreseeable future, but it seems to be shifting from younger audiences to the middle-aged. As teens navigate away from Facebook, their parents, and sometimes even grandparents, are just discovering it.
Facebook won’t be obsolete in a matter of months; in fact, it will probably be around for a very long time. There are over 900 million active Facebook users, and that number isn’t going to drop significantly in the next year. After all, talking about ourselves makes us feel good; it activates a part of our brain that acknowledges rewards, and that’s why we’re so hooked on social networking. The odds are, even when people complain about the newest layout, lack of features or privacy issues, they won’t actually terminate their Facebook account.
But young people in particular are beginning to grow bored with Facebook, and are moving on to other sites like Twitter and Tumblr. This migration of interest in teenagers is similar to the drop in Myspace’s popularity a few years ago in favour of Facebook. If this is any indicator of Facebook’s future I think it’s safe to assume that, like shoulder pads and spandex before it, the site is a slowly sinking ship.