Growing Up Facebook
Facebook was such an interesting thing when it started really. A great way to see how people were doing, what they were up to, a few pictures here and there. Maybe a daring video. Self generated content to a captive audience of people who wanted to see it.
A great way to stay in touch.
But times change, and kids need new toys. I’m fortunate enough to have two great teenagers. They can be a bit much sometimes, but all in good humor. It struck me though when I caught an off-hand conversation between the two of them which, I’m pretty sure, they didn’t think we (their mother and I) could hear them:
15 year old: “Who uses Facebook anymore?” 14 year old: “Old people…like mom and dad.”
And just like that, the realization came to me. Social media, as it’s called, is already seeing itself aging. It’s already seeing a generation of people who are ready to curate its antiquation.
This stemmed conversation with the teens. I asked, if they aren’t using Facebook, how do they stay in touch with people. The youngest looks at me (yes, I already know how smart she says), says “Daddy, people don’t stay in touch on Facebook, they just rant. I talk to friends via Instagram (a Facebook product, but I don’t mention that to her) or ooVoo.”
And it strikes me…selfies aside, the best part of Facebook was the statuses with the pictures. Not those shitty ecards that have text from a FW:Fw:fw:FW: Re: Must Read Hilarious email my gram sent me 12 years ago, but the pictures of real people doing real things. Somehow, these items have meandered over to Instagram and, while some make it to Facebook, most just stay on Instagram.
To get to the heart of this, let’s understand teenage culture throughout the industrialized world. Teens want stuff now - in the order it happened. If they want to see what happened a few hours ago they’ll scroll. Instagram, up to a few weeks ago, had that nice, ordered timeline. Facebook abandoned it before today’s teens would get a chance to experience it. They essentially ignored a large population of young people in order to follow the directions of an algorithm that would make “better flow” or whatever.
With Instagram (or “Insta” as the kids say) moving towards a more Facebook model, perhaps the kids will move on. It doesn’t take look for a $2bn phenomenon to play out with today’s youth. It’s not about business to them, it’s about the social part.
Basically, we have a situation where the social aspect is reflected by the person using the technology. Teens are more flexible in their use of applications calling for social interaction. We should learn from this.
Maybe the kids are alright.