Why FACEBOOK is dying a slow death
Mark Zuckerberg started FB with the vision to bring the real life social interactions online. That was the raw and pure agenda. He wanted to break boundaries of geography in the process and help people communicate, connect, collaborate. Also, he wanted to make it “cool” first and only then monetize. He knew what the definition of “cool” was then. But a lot has changed since the early years…
I see some clear trends that tell me that FB is well on its way to a slow and imminent death from the initial vision. I predict that FB will soon become a place just for propaganda, political advantage, fake news, and loud speakers who have very very strong opinions and mindsets. In other words, it will be a place which will no longer be “cool”, unless the issues plaguing it are addressed fast.
Here are some points to explain my prediction:
Preachy is not cool
Friends are a big part of everyone’s lives. It is with friends that we are truly ourselves. Be it at 15 or at 50. When you hang out with friends offline, you make casual statements that you laugh about. These need not be set in stone or reflect your personal principles etc. That is a big part of hanging out and relaxing. No matter how big you are professionally, this personal space to be free is needed by all. Even a Ratan Tata would like time with friends where he can be silly, ludicrous and have a sense of humour. But in the public forums, one needs to always be intelligent, careful and mindful. In the online world, the privacy settings decide what you put out as public and as private. Mark Zuckerberg wanted the offline social interactions to become online. So one must have the freedom to be casual online. But today, FB is full of people that do not allow you to make short sighted, silly, politically incorrect statements. There is no room for sense of humour. Even with the privacy settings as “friends” you have people telling you to rationalize your thoughts and be non-controversial or play safe. There are always a bunch of people who get touchy about things and start to preach and lecture. We all know of Government officials arresting people for putting statuses as well!! It makes you wanna quit the platform and opt for something less argumentative and judgmental. Having said that, I know there is a line one needs to draw for oneself before posting anything. But who is to decide if the line is acceptable or not? All I know is, we never had these issues when we first started using FB. Did we?
Noise and clutter
There are people and pages that are just too loud and too in your face on FB. They track you everywhere and are trying to communicate everyday all day with you. A lot of good content actually gets lost in the noise of such pushy people and pages who are spending more on FB. Most people who are very active and vocal are the ones with extreme views. The realists are quiet observers and ignore most arguments. They find it “pointless” to interfere because nobody will reason. Political propaganda is the other big culprit. We are made to see and read things we are least interested in. The ways to block noise is so limited for the consumer today. You feel like you are drowning in shallow conversations and content with no fault of your own. Then there are business pages that hound you like no other. This again makes FB a very uncool platform to be on going forward. It is more like a teleshopping channel these days. Everyone is selling something- be it opinions, products, hate, loyalty. It’s all on sale for buy 1 get 1!
When FB was launched, we had very few options to interact online. And the platform was not this commercial. Now there are a host of places where we can connect without being judged, hounded or lectured. Therefore, I see a definite shift from FB to the newer options which are less invasive. Snapchat has the youth. Instagram has the quiet creative and adventurous ones. Twitter has the influencers and celebrities. And Linkedin or Medium have the professional thought leaders. FB will be left with the disgruntled, angry, religious, political, scared, wannabe’s, crowd-pleasers and the opinionated. Soon there will come a time when we take pride in “less is more”. Soon the online social media market will imitate the offline behaviour of closed communities and closed groups. This is already happening in a big way!
Now since FB is the oldest and the most popular platform, everyone wants to be on it. Including parents, grandparents, and infants (via their parents). They have learnt how to use it and are sending friend requests to hundreds of people each day because they are still in that mode of adding more friends. We all face this issue don’t we? There is a social obligation that we feel to accept their request, knowing perfectly well that it will stifle our freedom to post. And also, will throw up feeds on my wall of gods and goddesses, or discussions about nappies etc each morning which I want to avoid. All of this is just once again making FB a very very formal and socially correct medium, and indirectly adding to the popularity of the likes of Snapchat. These groups have not figured out Snapchat and Instagram just yet, but the day they do, it will once again be a huge threat to those platforms. This also explains why Snapchat kept its UI/UX a bit complex to use. It is not the most user friendly medium for sure, and perhaps that is working in its favour to attract ONLY the youth.
This to my mind is one of the biggest reasons for FB’s downfall. There is just no way to control trolling, fake news, hate messages etc. Now with the aged on FB and what’s app, they believe everything they see and hear. They have no knowledge of what might be photoshopped or animated. What is factually correct and what is not. Everything is horrifying to them and needs to be shared with their children on their wall as a caution. Then we as children need to explain it is fake and needs to be ignored. All this is a lot of work and an added responsibility for us! FB was supposed to be a place to relax, laugh, hook up, share and get up to date with your friend circle. But it is far from that now. It is about being socially correct, politically correct and emotionally stable.
If Zuckerberg still has the same dream for FB, then he needs to address these issues. Many of my friends have left FB and I am considering it too. As a professional, it helps me promote my business and my blog. But as an individual it is stifling and results in more negative vibes than positive. The youth in Tier 1 cities are already off the platform. So unless the brand does an overall introspection on redefining its “cool factor”, a slow death is imminent. FB will face the same issue Japan is facing today-too many old people.