The year is 2009: only three years after Facebook opened its virtual doors to anyone with a valid email address.
2009 was a big year for the world! Obama made his White House debut, Ke$ha released her timeless single “Tik Tok,” Scrubs aired its last [good] season, and everyone and their mother was hopping on Facebook (whether or not people accepted their mothers’ friend requests was a different issue entirely). Seriously: between 2008 and 2010, Facebook skyrocketed from 100 million to 500 million users.
While Zuckerberg’s digital brainchild was originally designed as an Ivy League college networking tool*, the late 2000’s ushered in Facebook as the common man’s favorite e-forum. Everyone could log-on and post their thoughts about the election/geo-politics/James Cameron’s “Avatar”/Taylor Swift/etc. If you had an email address and an elementary school degree, Facebook was your platform to post pictures and remember birthdays and play Farmville. So yeah, 2009 was pretty much the year that Facebook proved decades of science fiction writers correct: world domination via the Internet was very, very real.
Because how could you not have a Facebook? How could you pass up invitations to cool college parties? How could you justify not catching up with your fifth grade best friend who moved to Alaska and became a welder? How could you live without the world’s favorite one-stop spot for news and Buzzfeed cooking videos? When popularity, nostalgia and networking are a login away, how do you not?
And yet, today Facebook is not the social media monarch it once was. Twitter and Instagram** have waged many a web war trying to dethrone our old fave. Spend enough time around kids born after 2000 and you’ll quickly hear “Facebook is dying/dead/buried/obsolete.” There’s a persistent pressure in today’s world to stay hip. If Instagram is ‘in’ today, a twenty-something is expected to be there. But I resent that.
Because again: how do you not when it comes to Facebook? Sure, today’s middle and high school students vastly prefer Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. But what of us fossils? What of the kids (now big kids, I guess) whose entire adult lives up to this point have been catalogued in friend-lists and photos and heartfelt birthday posts all on Facebook?
I am a rising junior in college. I’ve gone to sleep-away camp for the last thirteen years; I avoid watching network news for my own sanity and I’m photogenic sometimes; I like using Facebook Messenger*** because it’s convenient and has a GIF keyboard. In a lot of ways, I’m an archetypal 2016 college student. And like many others, I find the pressure to de-friend Facebook… difficult. Because after seven years of Facebook, leaving 1200 friends – a vast majority of which, live far away – seems daunting, nigh impossible.
Change is never easy, and social media changes faster than pretty much anything, ever. But if Twitter or TheNextBigThing™ really want to dethrone the e-Emperor of 2009, then they’ll need to give Generation XYZ a how.
Written by Integrate intern, Scott Greenberg
*Actually, before Facebook was Facebook, it was Facemash! Mark Zuckerberg originally designed it as a “Hot-or-Not” style dating app that used hacked pictures from the Harvard servers (specifically, a compendium of student photos ‘called the facebook’). Talk about billion dollar ideas!
**Of course, Facebook purchased Instagram for ~One Billion dollars a while back. This means that even if Facebook as we know it might be on the decline for the new generation, Facebook isn’t going anywhere. Mazel Tov, Zuckerberg!
***It’s important to note that Facebook Messenger has topped the charts for apps downloaded in 2016. This is especially huge now that messenger has rolled out text integration (and virtual chess!). What we see here is a really smart move on Facebook’s part: even if they can’t be the superior social media platform, they can position themselves as a thought leader for messaging.
© 2016 Integrate Agency