When Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg first launched Facebook in 2004, the world was skeptical. At that point in time, social media was but a glimmer in the eye of the World Wide Web. Even with sites like MySpace at the social forefront of the technological revolution, the concept of Facebook was an idea that had never quite been realized – connecting friends, coworkers, and family members all over the world through a single website.
For Zuckerberg, whose site has recently surpassed a value of $100 billion according to an article by the British newspaper The Guardian, the past few years have likely been the height of his career. Unfortunately for him, the rise of new social media sites, many of which took the cue from Facebook, might just be the site’s downfall. The site that had once been an online gathering place for teenagers and their peers has slowly diminished into a something of a hybrid between an online marketplace and a gossip column. Now more than ever, young people are ditching the drama and moving away from the confines of a news feed for a less-personal social media experience.
“I think Facebook is honestly losing its appeal due to its turn towards advertising, commercialism, and encouraging people to spend money,” junior Samantha Noland said. “I think one of the main reasons Facebook became so popular when it first started is because it was a free way to connect with family and friends without being bombarded by advertisements, like it is now, which is why I believe people are leaving it behind for less commercial ways to communicate.”
Just in the past couple of years, teenagers across the globe have been abandoning Facebook for newer social media sites like Tumblr, Pinterest, and of course, the all-too familiar trend, Twitter. Suddenly it’s hashtag this, hashtag that, hashtag everything. So what’s the hype all about? The answer’s simpler than many people realize. With sites like Twitter, users are limited to a simple 140 characters as opposed to Facebook’s 63,206. Nobody likes to read news-feed-novels; and with Twitter, nobody ever has to.
Another downside to the Facebook empire lies in the sheer popularity that the site has earned in the past couple of years. The problem often lies in the fact that family members have recently begun marching to the social media beat. With parents able to like and comment on every post their teens make, the freedom that Facebook used to offer seems to be slowly dwindling. Great aunts sending their love from the sunny shores of Florida might be welcome from time to time, but when these messages appear on every single post and picture, the tone can quickly turn from charming to just plain annoying.
With networks like the micro-blogging site Tumblr, users are able to escape the news feed for a more personal experience that redefines social media’s function in the community. On Tumblr, users all over the world follow each other based on mutual interests, rather than their personal relationship with the person.
Teenagers across the world are beginning to prefer the sense of anonymity that goes hand in hand with sites like Twitter and Tumblr. While the fate of Facebook will most likely wait to be determined within the coming years, it’s evident that the site is seeing a major change in demographics. In this so-called ‘social-media exodus,’ young people are leaving behind Facebook for a new sort of Promised Land – one where it’s perfectly acceptable to remain nameless.