The only constant in this world is change. Things come into existence and then disappear, rise and fall in popularity, go from fads to fade. I’ve been fascinated with how the real and the digital world have become intertwined and how their inner workings resemble one another. Online trends and sites that gain popularity are paradoxically almost instantly doomed. It’s in digital users’ nature to get bored, sooner or later. Apparently, even social media giants aren’t immune to this, so let’s take a closer look at the decline of Facebook and where it leads us.
Considering the amount of success some of the most popular social networks have enjoyed, one may be tempted to think they have been and will be here forever.
Early on in the life cycle, it’s all about novelty. Facebook brought in just that and provided a platform for creating connections and self-expression like no other before. People were primed and hungry for it.
Some 15 years after its launch, it seems like the formula has grown obsolete.
Sharing mundane, everyday details of your life has gotten old. People no longer care about it that much. Some reports show even a 50% decline in Facebook engagement.
Facebook death throes
Facebook is coping with a slew of problems which contribute to its decreasing popularity and user fatigue. Some of these include:
- Loss of novelty – people are no longer excited about the platform.
- Heavy commercialization – putting businesses before actual users.
- Recurring privacy issues – user data leaks, selling user information to advertisers.
- Meddling with the feed content – allowing or even pushing certain kinds of information, while suppressing others, fake news, deciding what’s good for the user.
- Users worrying about leaving digital footprint, which may be deemed negative.
- Influx of unwanted users, such as parents and grandparents, but also troll accounts.
A combination of all of the above, really.
What are the alternatives?
Facebook has gone from a photo rating, fun, social experiment to an all-in-one platform incorporating text, video, music, photos, gifs, reactions, and other media. Such a large scale expansion might not benefited its creators after all.
As the idea of social media took roots, we’ve seen specialization taking place. A split of sorts from Facebook. There’s Instagram for photography, Twitter for serious public discussion, as well as Tik Tok and Snapchat for fleeting video comedy content.
But what about all the silly and everyday statuses and comments? Is there still a place for them?
Sure, Facebook hasn’t morphed into something totally unrecognizable. These still end up in feeds. However, a lot of the previously public interactions have moved to group chats.
Various-size online communities find group chats useful simply because they’re a fun and convenient way to communicate. They’re like mini forums condensed to only the content you want to see (yeah, well, most of times, depending on who’s there with you).
Importantly, group chats reinforce the social circles existing in real life. They’re a place for performing social rituals and observing certain conventions. The way you act in a group chat may have consequences irl. This is what makes them such a powerful platform indeed.
So, Facebook as we’ve known it is dying. But who and/or what is killing it? It’s a combination of increasing user boredom, old age, and some ailments there seems to be no cure for. It was a mistake on part of anyone who thought Facebook will continue on forever or unchanged.
Does this mean you’ll one day not be able to log in and post a status? I wouldn’t go this far. The platform has grown too big and powerful to just disappear.
The kind of connections Facebook offered originally has been taken over by group chats. They’ve become the venue for more meaningful informal and professional interactions, usually within tighter social circles.
I see Facebook going the expert way, kind of like LinkedIn, but for showing to the world what’s important to you outside of work. Users will pay more attention to keeping their profiles clean while engaging more freely in group chats.
How has your Facebook usage changed over time? Have you moved further away from it, or become more active? Let me know in the comments down below or tweet me your thoughts @Chatwee