When your Facebook profile starts being discussed at family gatherings, and when the local policeman – whose daughter went to school with you – sends you a friend request, it is time to start questioning the role that Facebook plays in your life.
Facebook is nowadays infested with nosy family members, ex co-workers and, most likely, your grandmother. Every day you are reminded of their existence through inane status updates, and forced to think twice about what you upload due to their scrutiny. Facebook is no longer an outlet for scandalous photographs or clandestine activity only shared with a select group of peers – it is becoming increasingly popular amongst middle-aged adults and the elderly. This makes it less of an attraction for the new generation of teenagers who do not see Facebook as an escape from their parents but rather a means by which their family can continue to closely monitor them. Facebook’s popularity as a social media outlet for youths is therefore declining due the proliferation of adults and doting grandparents on the site.
Evidence of Facebook’s fading attraction can even be found within Zuckerberg’s inner circle. Facebook’s director of production, Blake Ross, recently announced he was leaving Facebook because, when inquiring of his son’s best friend whether Facebook was still cool, the boy reportedly said no, that neither he nor his friends enjoyed using it. Facebook is not fun anymore. Scrolling down the Newsfeed leaves one tired, bored, and cluttered with useless information, force-fed far too many vacation photos or uncomfortably intimate information.
Statistics also point to the decline of Facebook: currently, Facebook’s US audience consists of approximately three million fewer teens (ages 13-17) than in it had in 2011. Teens invest more time in other virtual means of communication such as Snapchat, Vine, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram, each more private and less exhaustive than Facebook. In an age where a photo may ruin one’s career, Snapchat – a photo-sharing program that does not save photos sent or received – has become the outlet for risqué pictures that may endanger one’s reputation. Unlike Facebook statuses, scandalous Snaps do not leave a digital footprint and are therefore far less likely to imperil future employability.
Admittedly, Zuckerberg has tried to keep Facebook relevant, innovating by adding Facetime and perpetually redesigning and updating the online format. Mark Zuckerberg has even attempted to address the privacy issues concerning his website, though most users have simply accepted the fact that Facebook is practically a public domain and merely attenuate the amount of personal information they decide to publish. Try as he might, Zuckerberg simply cannot bring back Facebook’s Golden Age: the halcyon days before Twitter or Vine, when MySpace – easily trumped by Facebook’s comparably easy-to-use interface and uncluttered design – was the only other player on the virtual field.
To the dismay of many who own shares in its stock, Facebook is becoming socially sterile, and new teenagers want something faster, less permanent, and exclusively young. Facebook will continue to be indispensable for creating events or communication with friends or relatives abroad, but it may end up like Hotmail, used as merely electronic mail and popular only amongst bored housewives wanting to re-kindle the flame with their high school crush.