The recent goings on with Facebook and privacy have been covered quite a bit in the last few weeks. While I’m glad to see the CEO of Facebook do a change in direction in the face of withering public outcry (and honest ethical concerns), the fact remains that my relationship with Facebook is on the rocks.
It’s been great, but I do feel like I’m at the stage where I’m waiting for the opportunity to let Facebook know I’m miserable and it’s over between us. I can’t point to one event over another, but I’ve about had it.
So, two parts. One, why Facebook is on its way out. Two, why I’m ready to call it quits.
I first heard the murmurings about how Facebook was becoming passé a couple of years back. There had been similar concerns when Facebook opened itself to a non-college audience. Some thought it would be the death of what Facebook was (the spirit of it or whatever). And while it may have been snobby elitism to keep Facebook as this guarded secret, the move to a non-college audience catapulted Facebook forward in its battle against MySpace, the dominant social networking site of the time. When Facebook Connect launched, I heard another few murmurs, yet that move allowed Facebook to catapult its way into the mainstream and become a hub of news, images, fan pages and the like.
I think that’s when I started looking at the eventual death of Facebook. And it was strange, because I am a pretty heavy user of Facebook Connect features. I share links from news stories and blogs more than I should (as my homework languishes), so a person would think I’d be happily clicking away.
But being the closet cynic I am, I realize that all good times are fleeting, and the march of progress is unrelenting. I wasn’t looking at Facebook’s eventual demise in a “Nobody comes here anymore; it’s too crowded” exclusive sort of way. I was just thinking through how these things go. There would be other stuff that would take over. Some people thought the idea was impossible. “What could take on Facebook?” they said, forgetting that the MySpace Empire had crumbled after a similar period of perceived invincibility.
Then everyone’s parents flooded onto Facebook last year. That’s when I saw the influencers leaving in greater numbers. Lifestreaming began. Flavors.me, Posterous, Tumblr, et al began popping up.
Then fan pages arrived. Then social gaming flooded in. Then spammers. Then scammers. Then I saw it featured in seminars. Then the media discovered Facebook. Nothing says “time to move on” to innovators like having news stories written about you.
Yet how could Facebook be in decline, in a real sense, despite such a smiling outward appearance?
What some people don’t realize is how adoption curves work. Let’s have a picture:
We’ve all been trying to be cool and hip since childhood. This is the way things unfold. The wheel, the printing press, Harry Potter, whatever—this is how we discover new things and how those things enter into the public conciousness.
So, at this point with Facebook, fast forwarding to the present, Facebook is probably on the right downward-slope of the curve. How far down is debateable, but most of the public knows about Facebook and it has probably captured the lion’s share of its potential audience.
Cool people—innovators—discover new things. The thing about innovators, though, is that they are restless and reclusive. They don’t want to be where everyone is. As soon as they are discovered, they usually move on. And the throngs of groupies (myself included) pick up their trail and scamper after them. It’s like hunting foxes, where the innovators are foxes, the influencers (who hop back and forth in the adoption gap) are the yapping hounds, and the majority of the public are the gents and ladies on horseback.
If the search for “cool” is a never-ending fox hunt, then we can assume that where the loud, galloping masses are, the foxes are not. They are busy finding new places to hide (or in our adapted example, finding new places to “be” is probably more appropriate, since our goal is not to shoot the foxes, but instead to share a conversation and tea…that’s where this whole analogy unravels—sorry).
And so, all that to say, I feel as though the galloping masses have been trampling all over Facebook for a while now.
Part two of this story is a bit more succinct, personal and irrefutable insomuch is its my personal opinion. Here goes:
I’m tired of Facebook.
I’m tired of Mafia Wars, Farmville, “First 1,000 people to join get $100,000,000,000” groups, “Let’s see if X can get more fans than Y” fan pages, on and on. I’m tired of chain letters from the 60s and 70s that made their way into forwarded emails now make their way into “post this in your status if you love X!” demands.
I’m tired of privacy concerns. I’m tired of others tagging photos of me at bars. I’m tired of porn bots trying to be my friend. I’m tired of the threat that Facebook may decide to change the rules again next week. Seriously, it’s like a bad landlord who changes the parking rules every day.
Other sites are popping up. They’re taking on a more anti-Facebook approach in terms of content sharing and private information. Lifestreaming serves a similar function that Facebook does, without the incessant gimmicks of Farmville and “join my cause to put 1,000 gummy bears in every mailbox” announcements.
And so, while I need to maintain a Facebook presence because my job is to tend to the galloping masses, you may not see me there as much. I’m nearly ready to break up with Facebook.