Has Facebook become boring?

There was a HUGE buzz and din around facebook when it first came on the scene, it took desktops and office computers by storm. It captured everyone’s imagination and brought people to it in throngs. Hundreds became thousands, millions and so on. The population of facebook is now larger than a lot of real countries. Social Media gurus started swearing by Facebook and eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But, cut to today, has it lived it’s life? Is it boring? Is it interesting? Let us try and understand this

That’s something many users – especially those in their teens and early 20s – are asking themselves as they wade through endless posts, photos “liked” by people they barely know and spur-of-the moment friend requests. Has it all become too much of a chore? Are the important life events of your closest loved ones drowning in a sea of banana slicer jokes?

“When I first got Facebook I literally thought it was the coolest thing to have. If you had a Facebook you kind of fit in better, because other people had one,” says Rachel Fernandez, 18, who first signed on to the site four or five years ago.

And now? “Facebook got kind of boring,” she says.

The Pew Research Center‘s Internet and American Life Project recently found that some 61 per cent of Facebook users had taken a hiatus from the site for reasons that range from “too much gossip and drama” to “boredom.” Some respondents said there simply isn’t enough time in their day for Facebook.

If Facebook’s users leave, or even check in less frequently, its revenue growth would suffer. The company, which depends on targeted advertising for most of the money it makes, booked revenue of $5.1 billion in 2012, up from $3.7 billion a year earlier.

But so far, for every person who has left permanently, several new people have joined up. Facebook has more than 1 billion users around the world. Of these, 618 million sign in every day.

Indeed, Fernandez hasn’t abandoned Facebook. Though the Traverse City, Michigan high school senior doesn’t look at her News Feed, the constant cascade of posts, photos and viral videos from her nearly 1,800 friends, she still uses Facebook’s messaging feature to reach out to people she knows, such as a German foreign exchange student she met two years ago.

Might Facebook go the way of email? Those who came of age in the “You’ve got mail” era can reminisce fondly about arriving home from school and checking their AOL accounts to see if anyone sent them an electronic message. Boyd, who is 35 (and legally spells her name with no capitalisation), recalls being a teenager and “thinking email is the best thing ever.”

Although email has gone from after-school treat to a dull routine in the space of 20 years, no one is ready to ring its death knell just yet. And similarly, Facebook’s lost lustre doesn’t necessarily foreshadow its obsolescence.

In early March, Facebook unveiled a big redesign to address some of its users’ most pressing gripes. The retooling, which is already available to some people, is intended to get rid of the clutter that’s been a complaint among Facebook users for some time.

Facebook predecessors MySpace and Friendster shone brightly but fizzled once finicky teenagers moved on to the next big thing. To boyd, though, Facebook is not only a destination site, but “a technical architecture that underlies many different things.”

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, whose for-profit content creation site Wikia recently surveyed its young users about their technology habits, agrees. Teenagers, he says, “do see value in Facebook.”

“I think we are seeing a shift from (it being) a place to talk to each other as just part of the world – the infrastructure of the world,” he says. “I don’t know if that’s to the detriment of Facebook in the long run.”

If you ask me, facebook will remain, but definitely not where it started and burst into. Somewhere, but not there.

(Disclaimer: All the quotes and data are based on an IBNLive survey conducted earlier this year and published by them, I take no ownership or copyright for the data, just presenting it here)

 

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