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Scroll through your Facebook feed these days, and you’re likely to find little of interest. Many have complained ...
Scroll through your Facebook feed these days, and you’re likely to find little of interest. Many have complained about the website’s new algorithms, which determine what content shows up for your consumption and what gets tossed aside. Your single friend posted a picture of his cat in a box. And then there’s an ad, likely matching something you searched recently. Oh, and your best friend made quiche last night. Is that really all that’s going on in your friends’ lives? Are we really only interested in content that is alternately adorable or delicious? The algorithms have something to do it with it, for sure, but there’s something else going on here.
Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama sat down with a group of 18 - 34 year olds for a roundtable discussion (read: photo op) on many of the topics that are on the minds of the so-called Millennial Generation. As they talked about the best platforms for reaching out to this demographic, Obama said something many now think could be the death knell for the once unstoppable social network: “It seems like they don’t use Facebook anymore,” he told the group.
When a 52-year-old man—a man so busy he presumably doesn’t have time to scroll through his “news feed”—knows you aren’t cool, the problem may be irreversible. Facebook changed the way we stay connected to each other, for sure. Marc Zuckerberg and company didn’t invent social media, but they made it accessible and fun, and they got super rich doing it. Of course, in the wake of its success, copycats were bound to pop up. Ultimately, social media has splintered out into more specialized arenas, and more people are abandoning Facebook in favour of these niche apps and services.
Want to stay up to date with your friends and interests without much time commitment? Twitter is still going strong. You took a picture of you and some friends and want to share it? Instagram is the place to go. Want to let people know where to meet you, or at least that your house is all clear for a good burglary? Check in with Foursquare. Are you trying to network with other professionals with an eye towards career advancement? Get LinkedIn. Are you looking to have an affair without leaving a trail of clues on the Internet? Snapchat is your solution. All the reasons people jumped on Facebook to begin with can now be done in a more specific and targeted way. Each app gives you an audience that will be getting exactly what they expected to get when they joined the service. And in each case, you can create a slightly different version of yourself, one that’s appropriate for its audience. It’s not that we’re all just interested in sharing cats and food so much as that might be all that’s left to do on Facebook.