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Lane: The decline of Facebook

BY JOE LANE | NOVEMBER 22, 2013 5:00 AM

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The last time I got excited about a large number of “likes” on Facebook was when I announced that I had gotten a cell phone … in eighth grade. Conversely, if any of my Instagram pictures gets more than 15 “likes,” I’m ecstatic.

At the heart of my shrinking interest in Facebook is the amount of time it requires when compared to other less-clunky social networks. It appears that we are entering a new age of social media, one in which time is the most precious resource at our disposal.

My Facebook profile is of minimal interest to me nowadays. The fact of the matter is that the social-media world is getting faster and the days of teenagers and college students spending hours updating their profiles and scouring their Newsfeeds are all but gone.

The advent of the smart phone has obviously and undoubtedly changed the way that people interact with social media. Ben Morton, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Iowa whose dissertation focuses on mobile media and social change, argues that the smart phone has “metabolized [social media] … it’s increased the rate at which people communicate because you don’t have to wait until you go back to your computer in order to talk.”

Social media are no longer activities in which we participate separate from our daily happenings; they have become a ubiquitous ever-present aspect of our lives. That change requires a new model of social media that’s faster and better suited to augment our daily lives.

As Morton puts it, “mobile devices have made it easier for [networks] like Facebook to integrate more activity off their platform, so it’s not just what I said or what links I’m sharing, it’s where you are, where your friends are, and photos that you take with your smart phone.”

Prior to the days of Instagram and the smart-phone camera, nobody would have thought to run home after school, sync up the digital camera, and upload a picture of a sandwich to Facebook under an album titled “My Lunches” — let alone bring a digital camera to lunch for that purpose in the first place. Nor would anyone on Facebook have cared.

Now, social-network users want something that is integrated into their lives, ready to document all of their meals, such as Twitter, Instagram, Vine, and Snapchat. People no longer go to Facebook for an initial post, they simply link up their posts from other services so that their friends can see what’s going on in their lives without having to check numerous networks.

So what does this mean for Facebook? Inevitable extinction?

With more than 1 billion users, Facebook is the largest network of people in history — with a reign such as that, it is difficult to see Facebook fading away. However, Facebook will become more of a central hub for an individual’s broader social-media presence and a catalogue of the whole human race rather than a source of new information itself.

What Facebook began just nine years ago fundamentally changed how young people get information. It appears, however, that the baton has been passed to the likes of Twitter and Instagram and the promise of social media as a conduit for information is in question.

With the rise of Instagram and the decline of Facebook, the purpose of social media seems to have turned from network-building and slow-paced sharing to a fast-paced stream of selfies and statsues that’s more about narcissism than information.


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