I was late to start: I opened my Facebook account around 2007, when all my other high school friends were advocating it and praising about the innovative capability to make events, share pictures, and occasionally poke each other.
I remember feeling hesitant when signing up for the account—I knew I was opening a Pandora’s box. I would never be the same.
Over six years later I have shared a lot of good times on Facebook. But my attitude towards it has changed multiple times over the course of my active account. I began by simply using it as a social hangout. Then I used it as a professional networking platform to seek work and experiences. Today, it’s just a place for me to keep tidbits of my life and to check in with old friends that I don’t get to see in person.
So when news about the gradual decline of youth engagement in Facebook surfaced, I was far from surprised.
What does the word “decline” even mean in the Facebook world? After all, the social media platform has approximately 1.2 billion active users. It seems everybody we know have Facebook—and that is part of the problem. The younger generation will never feel the liberty of social networking if Mom and Dad are creeping about, commenting on pictures and liking posts.
It’s true; we, the mass, are in fact making Facebook lame. This proves that the life expectancy of social media only has the longevity of the generation that pioneered it.
Success is the best poison any company can hope for and Facebook is coping with the repercussions now. Competitors that were once dominated have changed their strategy from facing the giant head on to luring the aging youth away like the Pied Piper. In a survey measuring the most important social media platform for teens done by Piper Jaffray & Co., 26% said Twitter is the most important as of Fall 2013 and 23% said Instagram is most important, matching Facebook (also 23%), which dropped from 42% a year ago.
Twitter and Instagram can obviously celebrate their accomplishment, but they aren’t Facebook’s only competition today. Messaging apps, although are smaller, are as intimidating as any other competitors on the communication market. This case was proven when Facebook offered a generous $3-billion to buy the ephemeral picture and text messaging app Snapchat.
The startup founded in 2011 by a couple of Standford students turned down the offer. Many thought they were insane—but I don’t.
I believe mobile is the future and that is where Facebook will lose the youth. Sure, they have their own messaging app, but with so many different ways to chat, not even SMS is safe, let alone Facebook’s mediocre application. The rise of Whatsapp, the resurgence of BBM, and the novelty of Snapchat will all act as alternatives for a text-heavy world that can often get very boring, especially for generations with shorter attention spans.
In 2007, I imagined my relationship with Facebook in the future. I saw myself as this distracted creature with a habitual tendency to check up on my network of friends for no reason. I am now that being—and if the younger generation saw me, they would think I’m so not cool.
But while the coolness and popularity of Facebook has declined significantly since the early 2000s, that doesn’t mean it’s going anywhere. Like phone numbers, emails and postal codes, Facebook accounts will just be another thing modern people use in their daily lives without acknowledgement.
It might not be hip or trendy, but it’s still necessary. And some might say that is the best accomplishment. And for the moment the Zuckerberg camp can breathe a sigh of relief: they’re not Myspace. Yet.