Nothing Lasts Forever

An article published today on The Guardian site declares that ‘Facebook is done’. I tend to agree. I assume that I’m pretty much Facebook’s target market: in my 20s, with some disposable income, web-savvy and all the other shit that makes me appealing to those oh-so-lucrative advertisers.

The trouble is, I’ve stopped using it. It’s moved from being a space where it was cool to catch up with people I haven’t seen for years, without having to make the commitment of giving them my mobile number, to a space where only the people I accepted as friends because it felt too rude not to are doing or saying anything. This makes my desire to log in and make the effort to do anything in that space pretty much non-exisistent.

For me, it started with the change of the news feed to the status stream that it is now. Personally, I think Facebook misconstrued the meaning and success of twitter here. The delight of twitter is that I can read a stream of thoughts, messages, interesting links and other titbits from people who I don’t know, who I probably will never know, and who don’t know me. It opens up my world from a closed community to a vast sphere of influence, that I can dip in and out of as I choose. The fundamental principle of Facebook, however, is that it connects you to people you already know. Just because I know them, doesn’t mean I want to know what they’re doing, reading, or thinking every second of the day.

In twitter, I can head out of the realms of the people I’m following and go search for tags, trending topics, or names. In Facebook, I can’t do that. I’m locked down to reading a constant flow of mundane garbage from someone I might have sat 2 desks down from in Science lessons 15 years ago.

As Phoebe Connelly rightly says in her Guardian article though, the next big thing is always round the corner. What strikes me is the pervading sense of surprise across the web – and sometimes even into mainstream media – when something that was cool online becomes, well, uncool.

No one was surprised when Channel 4 announced in August that they were canning Big Brother. Something that was cool on TV 10 years ago, no longer is. Similarly, books don’t stay at the top of the bestseller list forever, and the number 1 selling toy at Christmas one year is highly unlikely to be the same the following year.

Even Vanilla Ice was cool once

Even Vanilla Ice was cool once

Tastes, fashion, budgets, and interests change – and why wouldn’t those changes apply to our online world any less than to our offline world? OK, so we might not pay cold hard cash for our online habits like a Facebook account or news consumption, but we do pay in time and effort. And if we don’t feel like we’re getting our money’s worth, then we’ll head off somewhere else. It’s just human nature, isn’t it?


3 responses to “Nothing Lasts Forever

  1. Ah Miss Elf, you’re wrong about the demise of Facebook and you’re wrong for a couple of reasons, but on the whole it won’t matter. Let me explain. (which I guess is the final point made anyway)

    Reasons why you’re wrong:

    1) Engagement. Twitter doesn’t do engagement. It does the what do I think, or the look at this, or the this is cool thing, but you can’t have a proper discussion with it.

    Publish your blog update to FB and you’ll get more involvement from your readers, either here or there. I’d put money on more responses from your FB friends than your Twitter followers.

    Push your Tweets to FB and watch as your links get hit more, people care more about you on FB, people want to engage with you, it’s in built into the service.

    2) FriendFeed. Or to be more precise, the purchase of FriendFeed by Facebook. This will change FB drastically, it will bring down the walled garden that makes the FB service so restricting, and it will encourage more sharing, more engagement and more outside your friends relationships.

    Facebook will transform itself from where it is now to where it needs to be. Why? Because it can’t stand still, the news feed change was a sign of things to come, watch the FB wall crash down and watch the take up and interaction improve. Watch how your FB username tries to become the single sign on for your online existence.

    Why won’t it matter?

    Two words. Google Wave. Wave will push both FB and Twitter into realms of why do I need those services now? A single platform for email, IM, commenting, sharing, blogging, collaboration, aggregating your news, your rss feeds, your friends updates.

    A truly open extensible platform that will take on the mighty FB and Twitter and win. It will take time, but it won’t be long. The wave is coming and big G will push it like no other service it’s ever delivered before. It changes the rules and it isn’t just the next big thing, it is THE thing.

  2. Do you remember ‘the news’?… what was all that about?…. 4 times a day, every day “this is happening, this is happening, blah blah blah”… we’ve got lives!

    – time trumpet

  3. Keith Bennett, all interesting points, and well made to boot. Perhaps I am more cynical than you, but I’m not sure more people *do* engage with me as an individual on Facebook – I think it’s just that there is such a lack of anything interesting, exciting or different happening in that space that people will click on anything in the hope that it will relieve them of 5 minutes of boredom during their working day.

    Plus, I’m not sure that I’m the same person in Facebook and in twitter – I like twitter’s semi-anonymous approach, where I can be – if I choose to be – a bit ruder, more surreal, less politically correct than I can be in Facebook.

    I agree with your comments about FriendFeed in principal too – however, really this is because you are agreeing with me in the first place. 🙂 By saying that ‘Facebook will transform itself from where it is now to where it needs to be. ‘ are you not admitting that Facebook, as it stands today, is done? Which was my original point… If Facebook had not bought out another organisation and was not in the process of fundamentally changing its entire proposition (as you say, bringing down the walled garden) it would not survive. The new Facebook/FriendFeed service will be related the current space as we know it in name only.

    And finally… I find myself having to agree once more with you. Neither Facebook (as it is now, or in its new Face(lifted)book format) nor twitter will be THE tools of the future. It may well be Google Wave – but I suspect our increasing perception of Google as Big Brother for the 21st Century might prohibit its growth in as dominant a way as you imagine.

    Only time will tell I guess. Care for a wager?!

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