I read an interesting article on The Guardian today, titled “Facebook will lose 80% of its users by 2017,” where the author compared Facebook’s statistics with that of an infectious disease. The statistics did have a fatal flaw, however – the researchers based their analysis on the number of times “Facebook” is typed into Google. With so many smartphones in the hands of consumers, and apps, like the Facebook app, I would venture to say that users do not have to type “Facebook” into Google very often, if at all.
But, the article did bring something to light in my own personal realm. I started my Facebook account shortly after its creators decided to allow students outside of Harvard to make accounts, which was back in 2005. I was a loyal Facebook user – logging in at least 3-5 times a day, if not more, and it quickly became an addicting social media platform. However, nearly 10 years later, I can honestly say that Facebook and many social media platforms are losing its appeal for me. I no longer feel the need or care to log into Facebook often. In fact, my usage has plummeted to logging in once or twice 2-3 days a week, usually on the weekends. I can also add Twitter to this list, which I hardly ever logged into anyway because I just couldn’t get into it.
A huge reason why I don’t log into Facebook nearly as much anymore is, frankly, I just don’t have the free time to spend hours on the site. There are other things I rather be doing, like errands, or volunteering, or reading, or spending time with my friends and family. Another reason is that I’m starting to value my privacy and alone time more. Meaning, I no longer have the urge to post constantly about where I’m going or where I’m at with who. My interest in reading the constant updates of other people’s lives has also taken a back seat. I care and love my friends very much, but I suppose I just don’t need to be clobbered over the head by constant updates. If something is very important I’d prefer to be told in person anyway. But I digress, we all know that there is a fine veil covering the lives people allow others to see on Facebook. Therefore, Facebook does not feel entirely real to me, and it just isn’t entirely real. Life is not perfect, but Facebook allows others to give the illusion of perfection by picking and choosing what they share, and this is why Facebook has been linked to so many cases of depression. There’s a certain “keeping up with the Joneses” aspect to Facebook that leaves people feeling like if they don’t have the things other people have then they cannot be happy. This is not true, of course, but when you’re clobbered over the head a thousand time with posts of new homes. new marriages, new babies, graduation, new jobs, traveling, etc., it can lead to feelings of inadequacy.
I’ve thought a lot about deleting my Facebook account, but I keep it around begrudgingly because I still like the social aspect of it – I like feeling connected to loved ones who live far enough away that I cannot see them often. I also like to read periodic updates of my friends’ lives, like seeing pictures of their new babies when I’m too far away to meet them. I do also like to post every now and then, and share bits and pieces of my life with my friends and family who cannot see me every day. For one, I know that my mom loves to keep up with what I’ve been up to lately since we no longer live in the same state. I started my blog six years ago to share bits and pieces of my life in a way that could be inspirational to others. In other words, I like Facebook in small doses. Too much of anything is bad though.
I have seen a significant improvement in my sense of self and life with my decreased use of Facebook, and who knows, maybe one day I’ll feel like I can give it up completely, but I do like that it is yet another avenue that people can connect with me on. It’ll be interesting to see user statistics of Facebook in a few years – maybe it’ll be time for the next big thing then.