Face it: facebook may be dead


art by Maddy Mueller

Sophie Whyte

Art by Maddy Mueller.
Art by Maddy Mueller.
The integration of social media into the daily lives of Americans is second nature by now. Social networking sites allow for the instant connection to millions of people internationally in an efficient and easy way, which makes it highly attractive to people with an on-the-go lifestyle. Internationally a fourth of all people utilized social media in 2013.
“Social media is popular with youth because it’s a way to express ourselves in a pretty comfortable way,” junior Saja Necibi said. “We can connect with other people and exchange thoughts and ideas. We like being in touch with close friends, and social media sites allow us to rekindle friendships with people who we may have lost contact with. They also are a quick way to get information out, and since they’re free, everyone can join and connect with others.”
Platforms such as Friendster and Myspace set the stage for large, interactive networks that anyone could use. These sites eventually lost traction and gave way to the alleged king of social media: Facebook. Introduced in 2004, Facebook lets account holders share photos, videos and statuses and nearly a decade later users still utilize this media. Facebook is a Fortune 500 company, has a movie centered around it and even has over a billion users for their websites, showing its relevance to audiences today.
Yet this once thriving haven for teens is now dying. According to a Pew Research Center survey, “in focus groups, many teens expressed waning enthusiasm for Facebook.”
Because of things like the rise in adults getting profiles and stress from the boring arguments on the site, social media outlets deteriorate over time.
“I think social media sites just help create drama, and I think people just don’t want that anymore, so that’s why it’s dying out,” junior Amber Dothage said. “I think we could live without [social media.] I would feel better if we didn’t have to use them.”
However the Pew survey also stated that many teens use Facebook because “the site is still where a large amount of socializing takes place, and teens feel they need to stay on Facebook in order to not miss out.” Accounts by adults are still on the rise. Facebook might be losing popularity in favor of other social media sites according to the Pew study, but is still a highly profitable and active company, so it’s obvious Facebook is not gone from anyone’s lives just yet.
“I don’t really think that Facebook is dead,” Necibi said. “Among the youth, it has lost some popularity, but the site has millions of active users around the world. Along with that, it seems like more and more adults are creating Facebook accounts to connect with friends and family.”
Everything from websites to applications helps users to communicate without ever verbally saying a word. Some sites like Twitter limit the amount of communication users can give at one time, which encourages quick and witty conversation, like humor accounts such as @funnyoneliners or @TheTweetOfGod.
Celebrity comedians including Steve Carrell and Ellen DeGeneres have Twitter accounts where they post short jokes and comical photos. Though communication was one of the primary reasons social media began, Dothage says that humor is the future of social media use for youth.
“Vines are generally funny and honestly I think they make people’s day,” Dothage said. “Snapchat … the faces that they make with the pictures and just trying to do it in class without your teacher knowing is ridiculously funny.”
Even though social media outlets such as Vine and Snapchat are continually growing, Facebook remains one of the largest social networks, it’s not the only one with millions of users. Newer, smaller social sites like Vine and Snapchat are gaining more traction however.
“I think you know Facebook and Twitter are obviously the main two that most people are using,” RBHS media specialist Dennis Murphy said. “But there’s lots of little offshoot things that are coming up and will change, I mean, I think within a year or two, Facebook and Twitter will be dead, something else will take their place. So [social media usage] just keeps changing.”
Social media has only been around for about a decade, with sites like Friendster originating in 2002. It is unknown what the general course of social media will take since social media itself is so new. Some sites like Myspace become disfunctional after a few years while Facebook has already lasted for nine years. The future of online networks is in the hands of its users, changing daily.
“I’m not sure if the concept [of social media] will change as much, but the way it’s delivered might change,” Murphy said. “I mean I do think that with Google Glasses and all those kind of things, that people will be constantly interacting over and over and over and that constant interaction I think in time, given enough time, will change to where people don’t communicate as much anymore.”
According to a scholarly article Jeane M. Twinge published in Aug. 2013 in the Journal of College and Character, social media has already changed human interaction in the short period of time it lives. Her abstract states, “Social media builds shallow, ‘weak’ ties, increases self-focus (including narcissism), and may lead to mental health issues for some individuals. Over the time social media became popular, young people’s empathy for others, civic engagement and political involvement declined.”
However, there are positive impacts. Sites like Facebook that have chat boxes increases the amount of communication between family and friends, somewhat like small, digital letters. Social networks allow for information to be spread easily.
“The best thing about social media is that you can connect with friends that live elsewhere,” said Necibi. “One of my best friends lives in San Francisco, another lives in New Jersey, and some even live overseas in Europe and Asia.”
But, as Murphy stated, Facebook will soon be dead, that is, if the site isn’t considered dead already.
There is an increasing trend towards more visual social networking sites. Twitter and Facebook appeal to those who like status updates. Short lines of text that communicate ideas, humor and details of one’s life. However, there are more social sites popping up that rely heavily on photos and art. Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram are a designer’s dream. Thousands of photos, art pieces and videos posted everyday to these sites create a new era. Could it be the future of social media?
“I think because it’s quick and fast and so interactive, that’s what is most important that people like,” Murphy said. “They don’t want to spend a lot of time on anything.”
Perhaps the quick visual presentation is what draws people into these design heavy sites and keeps users there. Facebook may be stepping aside to allow more room for these sites.
Regardless as to whether Facebook has become dearly departed yet or not, it is the grandfather website that has inspired many offshoot social media sites and showed the world what social media is capable of. Social media is about communication, interactivity and most importantly human connection to those we might not be able to see every day.
By Sophie Whyte