Facebook a let-down

I was introduced to Facebook around 2010 while watching over my dad’s shoulder as he scrolled through his news feed, reading hundreds of posts from old friends and family. When I first made my own Facebook account, I was excited to finally be connected, instantly adding my friends and family members, changing my profile picture, and updating my bio. It reached a point of constant checking; every spare moment was spent sliding my finger along my phone, refreshing over and over again.

That was almost seven years ago. Now, I’m surprised if I check Facebook more than once or twice a week, and that’s only when I have a message or see a post about my next soccer game.

I wish I could say that my steady decrease of time spent on Facebook was due to being a older and more responsible person, but the truth is I spend just as much, if not more, time on my phone and computer as I did seven years ago. The time that I used to fill with Facebook is now spent on other apps like Instagram and Snapchat. So what caused this switch? And was I the only one who had migrated away from it?

I began doing some research. Facebook was launched in February of 2004 by Harvard graduate Mark Zuckerberg, who started coding the beginnings of the site during his sophomore year. When it was first released, it was only available to Harvard students. Not before long, it had spread to other Ivy league campuses and eventually out to the public. Since it was released, Facebook has seen explosive growth and climbed quickly to be the number one social media network with 1.59 billion monthly users in 2015. Facebook wasn’t just for the casual user; by 2007, it was home to over 100,000 business pages.

Though Facebook’s growth doesn’t seem like it will slow anytime soon, researchers at Princeton say that it will lose 80 percent of its users by 2017. They found that the number of times the word “Facebook” is searched per day has steadily decreased since 2012, and they believe that “the number of Facebook users will soon follow.”

This study finally made some sense in comparison to what many ARHS students and I have experienced with the social media site. As the years have gone by, many of our feeds have changed, showing fewer interesting personal posts and more ads or random viral videos.

Liam Carolan, a high school senior at ARHS noted that his Facebook interest has waned, too. “I don’t even look at my news feed anymore,” said Carolan. “It’s so full of dumb videos and pictures.”

Carolan checks Facebook often only to “Check the groups for my soccer team and for other events that are coming up.”

Like many teens, Facebook helps Carolan coordinate practices and other important information more effectively than a mass text message or email.

Unlike Carolan, some students said they use Facebook for more than just the organizational aspect. Senior Nastiya Kvasyuk is an active Facebook user, mostly because “it’s the only social media website not blocked in the school.”

Even though she doesn’t post much on Facebook, she still uses it for many other things. “I use Facebook for searching people, looking at pictures and finding interesting videos to share with my friends,” Kvasyuk said.  She said the best feature is the  “capability of finding all sorts of interesting videos.”

Although her primary interaction on Facebook is with her closest friends, she also uses it to follow old friends that she no longer sees. “I actively follow a girl I went to camp with who posts some really interesting things about her life,” Kvasyuk said.

Even though Kvasyuk likes browsing Facebook, she did notice some of the same things other students and I found frustrating.

“My news feed is full of spam.” Kvasyuk said. “Facebook has changed. However it still does the same basic things that it started with.”

English department head Sara Barber-Just, used Facebook when it first went public in 2004.

Now, Ms. Barber-Just spends no more than 20 minutes a day on Facebook, “I scroll through my news feed maybe 10 minutes in the morning and maybe 10 minutes at night,” she said. “I have family all over the world, so I use it to keep in touch and keep track of what they’re doing.”

Ms. Barber-Just has taught many students over the years who she has accepted as Facebook “friends” after they graduate. “It’s great when a former student messages me about his time in San Francisco where a new Harvey Milk statue is,” she said. 

Ms. Barber-Just also likes that Facebook allows her to discuss personal, local, and global issues.

The experience Barber-Just described seemed much closer to that which my dad seemed to get out of Facebook. It had not changed for him; he still would show me cool things he found. Facebook’s apparent demise is generational, but we will have to wait and see if others follow.