Nearly every day I see a story about how teens and tweens are abandoning Facebook in droves for other social networks because it’s become lame to them.
They’ve got a point. There are loads of creepy and seemingly-creepy old folk on FB, not the least of whom are these kids’ adult relatives, who make embarrassing comments and use the network to creepily keep tabs on what they’re up to. Creepy!
And I propose that all of that is just fine.
As in the physical world, everything on the internet does not need to be geared towards the young. And quite frankly, my Gen X friends and I (who’ve been “social networking” since the days of Usenet groups and email lists) have invested a lot of time and energy on Facebook over the years. I’m not interested in abandoning all that for the next big social network… which hasn’t even emerged yet.
I hardly use the phone or even email anymore, and my job takes up a lot of my time, so Facebook is my main point of contact with virtually my entire network of friends, acquaintances and even some professional colleagues. And my network remains very active. It’s not like Myspace, which spun out of control with tacky customization and rapidly became what many people have called “the internet’s abandoned amusement park.” Facebook is, by comparison, a stable and minimalist platform, which gives it legs, especially among older peeps who aren’t looking for constant, stimulative change.
Everyone rags on Facebook, but when level heads prevail it’s still pretty amazing, and all my friends are there. So why would I leave?
Not only that, but the network has years of my photos that I don’t have stored anywhere else (or don’t remember where they’re stored). Not to mention the fact that, if I am ever interested, I can easily go see what I was thinking and doing five years ago.
I know, Facebook has all my private information. I know, I’m part of a big database that corporations regularly access. It’s 2014, and to maintain the illusion that the average person has much privacy anymore is naive. And I’m sure that other social networks also want their grubby hands on your personal info. They’re just not as good at it (yet) as Facebook is. Sure, Facebook has me by the short and curlies, but so do my bank, my utility providers, my supermarket, my credit card companies… our innocence is gone, man. It has been since caller ID was invented.
So if Facebook becomes the long-term social network for Gen X, I’m OK with that, as long as the platform continues to be supported. And I don’t see that changing any time soon.
Ultimately, Facebook’s a utility, just like phone, electric, gas, water. And it’s free, except for the cost of the erosion of my privacy. Again, I’m OK with that. I surrender to the Facebook borg. Even if the cool kidz aren’t there with me.