Published in print in The Boar, Vol. 37, Issue 8, 11th February 2015.
‘…Is wondering what’s so great about Facebook’ posted an edgy, provocative Oliver, age 14. He then proceeded to upload an ironic profile photo of himself in shades, set up a virtual farm, and discover that his crush had been haplessly poking half of Year 9. She would not be receiving his Bebo Luvs that day, for they were limited, and therefore precious.
I’ve come a long way since then, and ditching the 3rd person was just the first step in keeping up with Facebook’s tremendous growth. 81% of all internet users, 1.35 billion people, visited the site monthly by late 2014. But just like my Year Nine heartache, all things eventually die, and Facebook is no exception.
Despite its size, last year marked the first time active usership fell, and by a whopping 9%. (Active means logging on at least once a month.) Meanwhile Pinterest and Tumblr both increased by over 90%. Even Google+ managed to coerce an extra 6% into its weird circling thing, which only the Rugby Exec could ever hope to fully understand.
Facebook is being pummelled by its competitors harder than a West Midlands Police truncheon landing on the skull of a beatnik demonstrator. Twitter made status-spamming about footballs cool, Instagram allowed endless sunset pics without judgement, Snapchat ended the first-world problem of selfie fatigue, and Tumblr relieved our collective desire for nautical-themed fan-fic. Although Youtube has always been the home of cat videos, Vine has also done wonders to pull people away from Facebook’s attempts to provide similar content.
With an exodus onto these rival sites, all that’s left on my Newsfeed is an endless stream of LadBible videos of cute dogs, pictures of strangers at Smack, BuzzFeed articles about Daniel Radcliffe, and Tab articles about boobs. That and constant adverts for LG, because one of my friends liked LG at some point, and Facebook decided that I too would like to share their deluded fantasy- that life is supposedly good provided you own the right washing machine.
But there is hope. Lest we forget the two pinnacles of university procrastination- ‘Overheard at Warwick’ and ‘Warwick Memes’. These glorious institutions serve as a vital reality check for all Warwick Students- yes, it is mediocre living in the West Midlands, but together we can overcome substandard bus travel and desolate functionalist architecture.
Is Facebook on the way out? No chance. From this stage though it will have to expand and adapt to keep its users engaged. Buying Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, and the ever increasing list of features, from groups, to video calls, to adorable Pusheen cat stickers, shows a move in this direction.
I don’t miss Farmville though.