Any long time reader of this blog will remember that I came to Facebook kicking, screaming, and dragging my heels all the way. I wanted to believe that Twitter would be the winning social network and had some serious trust issue with the big blue thumbs up.
Clearly, as the friends who have renamed it the JessicaBook will tell you, I’ve adapted.
I finally joined because I had to. From a social media marketer perspective, I couldn’t realistically do my job well without being active on the number one social media platform. And, bit by bit, I started using the site more and more.
You see, it became fun.
It became fun because my friends in England, Australia, Iraq, France, Nova Scottia, and other far flung places were sharing photos of their kids, kids I’m likely to never meet, kids I’m only ever going to see through these photos. They’re sharing tidbits of their lives with the world, with me. Sure, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter that my friend in Germany had eggs for breakfast, but for that split second it made me feel close to her, made me forget that I haven’t seen her in 15 years and probably won’t be seeing her any time soon.
It became fun because more and more of my American friends were joining. Blogging friends I only ever get to see at conferences. Writer friends who live in towns I’ve never even heard of. All of them, right there, in my computer. Sharing encouragement, stories about their days, highs and lows about working in our field.
It became fun because even my local friends were logging in. I know that I can walk up the street to see how my friend and her new baby are faring today, but how much more fun is it for me to see that she’s having a bad day so I can pop over with a comforting latte?
What was once a chore has become a lifeline of sorts. When I feel lonely sitting at my desk, I just have to open up a browser window and I have friends to talk to. When I’m struggling with something, I just have to share and soon enough I have lots of helpful (or not so helpful) advice. When friends inform me that they’re moving, my soul feel a hair less crushed than usual. They may be leaving, but I’ll still be able to “see” their kids grow, still be able to have them in my life.
Or will I?
More and more of my close friends have decided that they need time away from Facebook. They’ve recognized that, beyond being just a fun distraction, a quick way to check in with friends and family, it’s become an obsession, one that’s taking them away from their families and their face to face friends. And they’re stepping away. Deleting the app from their phones. Only checking in once a week or less.
A few years ago people were declaring a “time out” from Facebook, leaving for a couple days, and then coming back, lured back in a very tangible “Fear of Missing Out.” These days, people are saying they’re taking a quick break, walking away, and… not coming back.
I’m seeing the trend grow. It’s starting among the less tech savvy of my friends. Those for whom a cold turkey break hurts for a few days and then is easily replaced with something more wholesome. But I’m sure it’ll keep growing. I can easily imaging a time in the not so distant future when the only people who will remain are the lonely marketers like myself who will be struggling to figure out how to operate in a post Facebook world where paid marketing no longer has the reach it used to command and free marketing seems to be failing.
Soon enough, much like Twitter, Facebook will be a marketing wasteland.
And what then?
How did we keep up to date with our friends before Facebook?
Will we go back to writing letters? Emails? Sharing photos on Flickr?
Will I have to hope that the Europeans catch up and start sending photo holiday cards so that I can “see” my friends’ kids at least once a year?
Will we go back to the way things were BF (Before Facebook) or will we head off in a totally uncharted direction?
Will we have to go back to signing up to receive blog updates via email? Or keep links in bookmarks and remember to go check daily for new posts?
GASP, will people actually start commenting on blogs again?
One thing’s for sure. I doubt anyone at Starbucks wants me to stand around randomly saying things that pop through my head just to see if someone will be interested enough to reply. The JessicaBook is going to have to go back to living inside my head.