Facebook fascination fades fast

It was surely only a matter of time before our phenomenal fascination with Facebook began to fade. Like any drug of addiction, the high has to wane at some stage.

Even so, plenty of people are still getting their kicks out of it. Facebook now has more than 1 billion users each month. Not bad growth since its beginning when it had a comparatively miniscule 1 million users to the end of 2004.

Still, trends are trends for a reason: something new always comes along. And so it has been with social media. Facebook showed the innovators how they could take advantage of a new market and developers rushed to exploit the opportunity.

Latest research from Pew Research Centre shows two-thirds of Americans are on-line netizens and two-thirds of those actively use Facebook. It demonstrates clearly just how Facebook filled a nascent consumer desire. Still, cracks are starting to show in the Facebook façade.

Some 21% of users have started taking ‘vacations’ from the site with a good many of those suggesting they were spending too much time there.  Another 10% find the content less than compelling while nearly as many said those they kept in touch with were pouring just too much drama into their feeds.

This trend does highlight the fundamental underpinning of our new ‘connected’ world and the massive popularity surge of social media, in particular. As in any aspect of life, if you haven’t got anything worthwhile to say, shut the —- up!

Mind you, far too many people just don’t know how boring they are. They think we care about the minutiae of their lives when most of us have trouble just getting through our own.

The rule of thumb smart people realise is that content is king. That has become a truism now but it simply reflects a reality that has been in place since newspapers became a commonplace. The maxim of journalism for more than a century has been: stimulate, inform and entertain.

Some people have a rare knack for making their personal dramas entertaining to others. But the vast majority are simply boring pains in the backside. So long as they fail to realise this, people will tune out even more from Facebook and similar social media.

And how many stop to consider what the next big thing after Facebook will be? Pinterest and Instagram have demonstrated solid audience appeal but have not proved to be ‘killer apps’. You can be sure, though, that someone, somewhere is laboring over a terminal, desperate to give the world what it really needs to enable better communication. It probably is not far off and Facebook will seem so yesterday.

But just don’t forget that having something worthwhile to say is the inescapable bottom line to keeping others interested. It’s the message, not the medium.


Acknowledgement: Pew Internet & American Life Project, Social Networking, Joanna Brenner, 14 February 2013.