Social media has changed the way people communicate. Maybe older people complain that it has replaced the good ol’ fashion “tea party”, so to speak. Most people these days own a smartphone, and if they don’t, then they at least have access to the internet. Because of this, the simplest way to contact a friend is to ping them on one of the many social networks they belong to.
I remember my introduction to social media. I was about 12 or 13, and America Online was still the primary method used to connect to the internet. I would spend hours playing on bolt.com, a social networking site started by a community of teenagers. It was through that site that I met my first online crush (whom I have never forgotten to this day). Unfortunately, the site only lasted for 13 years before shutting down.
It is not uncommon for such a site to loose their standing on the internet. There is always something bigger and better that comes along. In the case of bolt, the next big thing to roll around was MySpace. Founded in 2003, MySpace was a neat alternative to Bolt. It allowed users who were not very technically advanced to create there own space. MySpace was probably my first experience with creating an HTML style page without having true HTML knowledge. MySpace quickly turned into a place where young people could go to flaunt themselves without feeling like a cheap hoe. This sexually infused social network has grown to 25 million users since its launch, but even so, its popularity has fizzled out over the last few years. Particularly, since Facebook was launched.
By the time Facebook started gaining popularity, parents were more aware of what kind of things their kids were doing on the internet. More and more parents started creating their own profiles, and friending their kids. With parents in the picture, Facebook became a more modest version of MySpace.
As of April, over 900 million users are registered on Facebook. It is likely that when you meet a new person, they ask you to friend them on Facebook – it is even more likely that you will have an account in order to friend them.
Despite its popularity, Facebook is the butt of many complaints. Quite often you will hear someone saying how much they do not like the latest UI update, or how they cannot stand the security measures put in place. Even though they complain however, these complaints will likely not result in the cancellation of their account. From my own experience, most people who cancel their account are doing so to hide from someone they friended or because it is too much of a time waister.
In the past, it has seemed like once a new social network rolls its url into the equation, the other sites slowly begin to move down the Google search results page, until the only information you can find on them is their Wiki page.
As Twitter has been known more by techie and business type persons, and not so much the ordinary user, I do not think they have much chance to push Facebook to the side. Especially since Google introduced Google+ last year. So far Google’s new social networking site has not claimed the time of the most avid Facebook users.
The internet can be divided into two different crowds: 1. Those who want everything at their fingertips, in other words, people with a since of entitlement (possibly the largest of the two crowds) and 2. Those who are willing to work for their information, search, and understand what the internet is all about. Because of crowd one, and the rapid growth of iPhone users, I believe that Facebook still has a long life ahead of it. Facebook makes it easy to talk about your ex, tell the world about your one night stand and your subsequent missed period, and play games while doing so. Unfortunately, the other options on the table right now have not yet lived up to Facebook’s standards and have a long fight ahead of them.