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.
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?