There’s an interesting article at The Verge on why teenagers seem to be moving away from Facebook, the thing I loathe but feel compelled to use anyway. The takeaway is simply that what makes Facebook Facebook, sharing stuff about your life, is no longer hip. The fad, like so many pet rocks, has died:
At some point, adding these details, like hundreds of photos from a recent vacation and status updates about your new job amounted to bragging — force-feeding Facebook friends information they didn’t ask for. What was once cool was now uncool. Worse yet, it started to feel like work. Maybe the burden of constantly constructing immaculate digital profiles of ourselves is tiring. “I find it boring, and I don’t really care about knowing all my friends’ details anymore,” my fifteen-year-old cousin Neah Bois wrote to me. “I think it’s stupid when people post a lot of pictures about their lives and all that stuff… I go on to talk to family and connect, but really I only go on once a week or so.”
Mmmmm, no, I don’t think that’s it. I mean, I do think that this kind of nest-decorating on the Web can become laborious for some, I don’t believe that’s what’s happening.
Neither does this person:
“I think it has less to do with kids consciously looking for ‘the next big thing’ than Facebook just no longer being a space that serves them,” says Laura Portwood-Stacer, author of “Media Refusal and Conspicuous Non-Consumption: The Performative and Political Dimensions of Facebook Abstention”. “I think kids are less self-conscious about trying to be cool than marketers would like to think,” she said. When Facebook launched, it was cool to expose details about yourself, like what movies you like, what you’re doing right now, and who you’re in a relationship with.
Closer, but I think it is still cool to do those things. The sharing of details and airing of one’s guts all over the Internet goes on in a million different other forms and on a bunch of other platforms.
Here’s what I think is going on. Remember that the kid Neah from the first quote says it’s now for talking to family. If there is, indeed, an exodus from Facebook by teens (and let’s put aside for now the idea that this may in fact may make Facebook more appealing to me, being crotchety and whatnot), I think it’s because of one simple fact, or, perhaps, a set of simple facts.
Mom is there. And dad.
Oh, so are grandma and grandpa, probably.
Your relatives, your teachers, your principle, your boss at Dunkin Donuts.
Yeah, there are privacy controls, but no one understands them. Which means every dumbass thing you put up on Facebook might be seen by all manner of figures in your life that you’d rather just left you the hell alone.
What Facebook offers is still “cool,” I think, but people who aren’t cool are now all over it. What was once like hanging out with your friends at the mall is now like a family reunion and school assembly that never freaking ends. When I was 15, I wouldn’t have wanted to be in that, either.
Kids are still living their lives very openly on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Google Hangouts, and Tumblr (which also gives them the chance to be both open and anonymous if they wish), and other services that, at 35, I’m probably too old to be physically capable of becoming aware of. And other than Twitter, none of them are in an open-forum kind of format that allows them to be flooded with undesirable relations that spoil it for the young’uns. You interact with whomever you want, or nobody.
But I’m only guessing that’s what’s up.