For the past 2 decades, the Internet has reached nearly every corner of the world. This has enabled citizens, activists, companies, journalists and governments to have unprecedented access to information and resources. Several countries have even made the Internet a ‘legal right’. As humans inherently possess a drive for self-actualisation, ‘social networks’ were developed to become the next big thing after the establishment of the Internet. Although social networks initially started with zero users, this number had exponentially exceeded to over 1.2 billion active members within a decade’s time. This is the first step to many more in humanity’s quest for technology, connectivity and knowledge.
Humans and Technology
Social networks have exceeded 1.2 billion active users within the past decade alone.
One of Apple’s most valued personnel, Steve Jobs had once asserted the importance of thinking in an innovative manner.
“A lot of the times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them”. – Steve Jobs
As much as we’d like to say that we are all different, that we all think individually, that we all have our own opinion, own thoughts, own set of beliefs – the reality is, we groupthink. Scientists discovered groupthink as an evolutionary trait – passed through on through evolution, whereby this type of decision-making was considered beneficiary in the natural selection process as proposed by Charles Darwin. This means that in order to fit in the category of the ‘fittest’, organisms were expected to adaptively follow the group. This is innate, immobile and never-changing.
As this is applied to technology, what is it that humans will collectively turn towards now as social networks starts to lose its prominence?
So here’s a question for you.
If Facebook was a person, is it dying?
A Princeton report earlier this year, predicted Facebook to lose 80% of its users by the year, 2017. Also, there is an outstanding prevalence of 50% (64% for teenagers) of members who claim to use Facebook less frequently than they used to.
Sociologists and media experts are questioning: “Why is Facebook decreasing in terms of member retention?” Why is it that Facebook isn’t our first or perhaps only source of social media like it used to be? Jason Mander, a psychographic analyst from GWI states simply, “people are growing tired of it”.
Instead, the new trend stems from the concept of ‘microblogging‘.
New Trend: MICROBLOGGING
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
– Henry Ford
Henry Ford, the creator of the first automobile had pitched the ideology of a smarter customer feedback system. This meant delivering more or beyond their customers’ expectations.
Social media platforms have done exactly this. Offering ‘location’ tags to potential technology of automated status updates enables better futuristic predictions of people than people themselves can. Microblogging is centric on this. It is essentially a type of blog that allows users to publish short text updates. They encourage quantity of posts over the quality of the posts.
With the active promotion and subliminal cues for microblogging (e.g. the infamous “What’s on your mind?” prompt on Facebook) and the additional features of gathering more publicity (e.g. the ‘Follow’ button), will it save Facebook from the Myspace virus?
According to this chart created by the GWI Social in their Q3 2013, we can note that the key increase of active users are very impactful on: Tumblr and Pinterest
This suggests a turn in social media usage patterns in the population. What is interesting is the fact that more than 70% of their users are between the ages of 16 to 34, whereas over 25% of Facebook’s users are over the age of 45. The technological divide is immense and seemingly stark in its nature, with the fluctuating characteristics of the younger generation to becoming more obvious. The ‘Taking Stock of Teens’ survey by Piper Jaffrays discovered that 45% of the teens he surveyed did NOT consider Facebook as their ‘go-to’ social network for sharing their life accomplishments.
Instead, what has shed light on the topic is this new platform structure of ‘micro-blogging’. The believed reason to this shift is due to human’s obsession with showing off their perfect lifestyles. Even servers like Twitter were conferred by the teens to be the more preferred communication vehicle than Facebook.
Future of Social Media
As reported by ITU:
- There are 1.36 billion Facebook accounts as of 2014
- There are 3 billion people online worldwide
With a third of the world’s population on Facebook, how soon will it be until that number drops to ZERO due to the increasing trend of multi-media? The dilatation of social media usage can also be attributed by mobile technology. With its ability for easy accessibility it is becoming more prevalent in our lives. Every year, phone app substitutes for Facebook are created and dispersed into the market for trial and subdued as an overnight success, such as Snapchat.
With the abundance of new social platforms, users will not have the capacity to fully engage and commit to one. This is alarming for each platform, as their users determine their success.
Eventually, and perhaps in the foreseeable future, users will be conglomerated and blinded by the overflowing social media that they will become nomadic crawlers from one social media to another in a short period of time.