What comes after Facebook? A social world?

facebook-lonelyAlmond Butterscotch named his photo Connected and lonely

That’s one of the most common questions I get when I’m giving speeches or meeting clients. Hell if I knew but the last couple of weeks I’ve been giving it some thoughts, new thoughts though. If you’d asked me one year ago I’d dreamed up some sort of new service or maybe I’d be talking about Instagram, Path or some other new social network. That’s of course in one way part of the answer but lately I’ve spent more time thinking about the vacuum that would appear of people stopped using Facebook.

I’ve been using Facebook since early 2007. It’s been one of my most important channels to keep up with both old and new friends. In the last five years I’ve come to appreciate the constant buzz of images, videos stories and links. People that I hadn’t seen for years and years has once again become part of my life and even if we don’t meet that often in the physical space we’re up to date on each others life. I also feel that the people that I do meet often has grown closer to me.

Now we’re constantly hearing that people are starting to leave Facebook. Some people make more buzz about it than others but in my feed I think it’s very clear that more and more people have stopped posting things on Facebook. It’s in many ways become quiet. And once people stop reacting to each others stories on Facebook the outcome will be less and less stories and suddenly we’ll stop posting anything at all. What happens then? Where do we go?

Well, some people will of course argue that this is great. We’ll stop talking online and spend more time together offline. Other people will probably say we’ll all move to a new social network and start spreading our content there instead. Personally I’ll say we’ll end up doing both BUT what I don’t think we’ll all do again is build up a new presence that in any way resembles how we’ve used Facebook. I’m sure we will not re-establish our network somewhere else. It’s taken many of us years and years and during these years we’ve changed. And this is the big change. This is ‘what happens after Facebook’. After Facebook we will loose contact with those old friends of ours that we had already lost before Facebook. Once again their faces will drift away only to be lost. Every now and then we’ll run into each other downtown and ask one and another “How are things” “Great, how are you” only to then keep on with our own life.

The question “What comes after Facebook” is in one way a sad question and in another way it’s just how life is…contanstly changing. Maybe, just maybe we’ll end up becoming more social again cause being social in the real world social network takes effort while being social in the social network, that takes…a like.

Funny. What comes after Facebook? A new social world!

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  • http://twitter.com/erkstam Daniel Erkstam

    Interesting thoughts! Hard to imagine a life without the service that is so integrated in the online daily life. Guess you haven’t seen this, cause if you did it would have been in the blog post ;) http://youtu.be/95N3EV4jAoE

  • Johan Frössén

    First I have to say I completely share your observations. However, I might think its less linear than people slowing down on usage to finaly end to use facebook. Sure, some might drop out, but I suspect that the people who stay simply have refined their usage. It seem to me that what might seem like less activity also could be explained as post newness activity where we now use it more like a tool than a hangout. We might not post our hamburger dinners as often, but we sure use the events and recommending things we really want to share with others. Thoughts?

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  • http://twitter.com/CoSkills Anna Rydne

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    Hi Johan and thank you for the great
    article! I think this is an interesting way of looking at the decline
    of Facebook use. Still, thinking we’ll leave social media and go back
    to being social in “real life”, is the same as saying that
    Internet is a fad. It’s highly unlikely for others than just a few.

    We won’t leave social media. But I’m
    pretty sure we’ll leave Facebook sooner or later. In my opinion it’s
    not because we’re getting tired on our own and our friends updates,
    it’s because Facebook has messed the space up. Big time. All I see in
    my feeds nowadays are ads, pages my friends liked and pages FB
    suggests for me, which mostly consists of dating sites for outdated
    people. (I haven’t told FB my relationship status so they clearly
    think I’m single. And old, and by the nature of the sites apparently
    they think I’m desperate too). Anyway, in my opinion FB have bitten
    themselves in the tail. People hate the way FB mess with their
    streams. And when they don’t get what they want from it anymore, they stop go there. Simple as that!

    I agree with you that we probably won’t
    move all our contacts to another network. I think we will be on
    different networks and interact in different ways with different
    people. And we will lose some, just as we did in reality, before we
    gathered everyone we’ve ever met on Facebook.

    In the future, I think we will mix our
    networks so they consist both of people we know IRL and people we
    just know from the net. I think the boundaries between what is a
    friend or not will diminish. What is a real friend? Is it the person
    in your life who always are too busy (lazy?) for having a cup of
    coffee with you, and who you see at best once a year? Or is it the
    person just a tweet away, always interacting and responding and
    willing to help you out?

    I don’t think the connected and lonely-thing is grounded in reality. It’s not
    normal to hang out with a huge amount of people in real life, (even
    if some people try to do it to achieve high status among their
    peers). People who hang out with a lot of people IRL often don’t have
    many real friends, just shallow acquaintances.
    There’s actually research on this: I think it says a person could
    have four or five close friends at a maximum. Most people have one or two. So if you have one friend in real life and the rest on Facebook,
    you’re actually better off, or at least not less favored, than before
    social media entered the scene. Getting rid of social media won’t
    make us hang out with 20 more people IRL. It will just make us more lonely.

    Thanks again for writing this and for
    hosting such a great blog!

  • Anna Pham

    I think it’s very interesting to see what happen in the next 10 years,will facebook be replaced or it will continue to grow into a big giant like google. Let’s see.

  • Jordan B.

    “What happens after Facebook “is a good question I
    think so many times we are so consumed in our world that we don’t think about what will happen in the future now many people in today’s society today’s generation have grown up with social media so we don’t really know anything different. However, those people that are older know a world besides social media so I think the question is not more so for those people but rather for the people that were born in to social media. Now the question of what happens after Facebook- I think there are several sides today. First, is that maybe we will not use a social networking of any sort. Second, however there will be a new social networking site that is even more invasive on people’s privacy. Now I think the latter is a more likely choice because there are already more privacy invasive social networking sites becoming more popular than Facebook such as Instagram, and more recently Vine. I think this is something that we can see it going on now that Facebook is going away and these other social networking sites are coming into play. Part of this problem is the convenient that social networking sites have created as an example we can all download social networking sites to our cell phone they are with us constantly in the book digital media ethics Charles Ess explains that part of the problem is that cell phones create that convenience it’s easier and we can connect with people everywhere. As continues that it’s just too easy he said “too much information to easy to access to forms of information that one should not/does not need” (2009).

    Ess,
    Charles. (2009). Digital Media Ethics. Cambridge,
    UK: Polity.