They say Facebook has reached its peak marking a milestone for the company. So is the only way is down, will it become like MySpace? (what's that?) Mark Zuckerberg's company is one of the richest & most successful in the world, but does this mean he has the capability to create technological advancements & incentives to keep people logging on? This isn't to say its failing, Facebook is one of the most successful businesses of all time. But can Facebook become part of our future? Do we want it? With billions of users it'll have controversial issues with privacy, falseness, prejudices, is it too invasive to our personal lives? Or is it bringing people together like never before in history, sharing our dreams, knowledge & culture? Where else could we see the best cute cat videos?! Sorry this post is so long, it started as a paragraph, but its quite a complicated subject, maybe just read this before failing to sleep & have nightmares!
Facebook is great for my business, its unrivalled in reaching people & new clients, its the centre of my business! There is no other method to show my work & get interaction so quickly. I can quickly deal with messages & speed up production like never before! Of course there are criticisms of Facebook. During my Degree & Masters we often compared the Self to the digital effigy (digital self) & what implications this would have on our identities, perspective & actions. It's clear our digital-selves is ideal, where we only allow the perfect picture or lifestyle to enter our timelines. "Look how awesome my life is!" It's how we want to be seen; good looking, funny, creative, caring, intelligent etc etc. Maybe Dreambook would have been a more suitable name, but this could have consequences for those who don't realise this, or maybe we do but it still makes us feel inadequate, even though we cynical. The most obvious example is when your friends post up holiday pictures of exotic places, sausage legs on the beach, as you sit in offices or waiting for buses in grey skies. Outside of social networks (unimaginable I know) in psychology with have a Self & Ideal Self, which we are always striving to be & want to be seen as. If there is a mismatch between how you see yourself (your self image) and what you’d like to be (your ideal self ) then this is likely to affect your self-esteem. So in a way, Facebook & Social Media reflect our battle of Self & Ideal Self, but does it have such a powerful effect? Some would say we always want something more, it's human nature to want things we don't have. Maybe we don't have the ability to enjoy our dreams even if we achieve them.
Century of the Self
"I can't shake the feeling that I'm wasting my life, I feel like I should be doing something 'more' you know?" We've often been nurtured that happiness only comes when you achieve greatness, achieve the impossible. Media, movies, music & community further perpetuate this American Dream. But, most of us don't give ourselves enough credit for living any life & realisng how good our lives in the western world. We have already won the birth lotto by being born here. Sure there is room for improvement & corruption must always be stamped out. Health, companionship & freedom are really the only important things we never truly appreciate until they are under threat. As humans we are often self-indulgent & maybe social media promotes this ME ME ME philosophy. The 20th & now the 21st century is all about the SELF, what we like, dislike, who we are & what people think of us are one of the most important aspects of our lives. Social media is an extension of this, most people use escapism to deal with this inner torment, mostly in the form of entertainment to alcohol, sport, tv. Escapism is closely linked with us wanting to experience something more. Drugs & alcohol give us an out of body/normal experience leading to escapism. Just as our constant search for a good film/programme, holiday view is our ambition to escapism/experience from our normal day to day routine. We want to travel everywhere to experience new things, a constant drive to expand our knowledge, an insatiable feeling. Do we click on FB for a small slice of these things?
Where have the youth gone?
Worldwide, there are over 2.13 BILLION monthly active Facebook users which is a 14% increase year over year. Ages 25 to 34 is now the most common age. I've noticed on my Page posts the younger age group 25 & under have been reducing in activity (Likes & Comments) for a few reasons. They have migrated to other social networks, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat. We have to remember the first generation of Facebook users 14 years ago are now in the older age group. When we are younger we also rebel against what our parents are doing, "older people are making it uncool." Younger people also feel spied on from their parents on Facebook when there are other social networks that those interfering stinky parents don't know how to use yet!?
Overall people are posting & interacting less with Likes & Comments for several reasons. People are still logging on to FB, but mostly to observe, I call these Ghost Users. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with being a Ghost User, but marks a growing change of era of Facebook. Are people using Facebook to be nosey & snoop? Is Social Media full of rubbish, people posting dull everyday life things? Is Selfie culture making timelines look self-indulgent, egotistical ME ME ME! When you click Like are we fueling it!? Some people say if you're busy enjoying life you don't have time to post, but does this mean if you're on FB you're bored; who wants to be seen as bored or boring!? People don't want to be seen to be part of it. Or, are people chatting on Facebook behind the scenes in Private Group Chats or Groups? Either way, FB does seem to be a bit of an exhibition, some people like to observe, others like exhibit. Maybe its ok to have Social Network friends that aren't friends in real life. Many people in our society think they don't have a voice, Social Networks are a great way to do this & reach unlimited amount of people. You might say life is about sharing culture, ideas, beliefs so why do they have to to be real life friends.
But will the younger generation who isn't on FB eventually go back to it? I'm sure Facebook will find incentives? Every major Tech company has invested heavily in VR. FB has staked its future on Virtual Reality. For example, you can wear VR Glasses to augment the reality you see in front of you in your room or street. You'll also be able to have virtual meetings with your friends in a virtual cafe, where you can look & be anyone. Ready Player One, where everyone goes into a beautiful VR world as the real one is crap. Soon this will be a reality, or so the big tech companies would believe. Criticisms of VR say we would be ultra anti-social, unable to converse in real life, everything through a screen. Some would say this is already in effect on today's youth who have known nothing else. As with all new tech, there are people who will abuse it or let it take over their lives to ignore their real issue, whether it be shyness, anxiety or disorder. Screens are hypnotic! We've all seen films where people live in virtual worlds with virtual friends, lovers and companions, Its not that far away! Is it necessarily a bad thing, loneliness is a sad problem for elderly people but could it be cured by a virtual friend? Could you have just a meaningful relationship with a virtual partner? Maybe soon enough we'll each create a virtual character that we can design, to wonder the world electronically that we'll experience through a headset, have things attached to our bodies to make it seem real? Even glasses we can wear all day to augment our vision with info or simply to make things look nicer? Is part of our future in a headset?
Internet for the World
Facebook's other future aspiration is to get the other billions of people from all over the world online. Extravagantly, they are creating a fleet of planes to fly over the countries who don't have cables to broadcast internet. Total Global domination?! Studies have shown the internet provides access to information some countries are censored to receive. With freedom of information comes freedom of speech, knowledge and cultural change. The sharing of culture and ideas is paramount to innovation and democracy. On a smaller scale, Facebook has plans to enhance Messenger to do a lot more including multiplayer games console quality, you'll be able to share music you like, and interact with shops and businesses directly. For example, you could book a table at a restaurant and chat with them instantly. Or watch tv series or videos! It'll be all your emails, social network inbox in one place.
“There are all these studies that show that for every 10 people that get on the internet, about one person gets lifted out of poverty, and almost one new job gets created. If you’re talking about 4 billion people who are not on the internet, spreading internet connectivity is clearly one of the biggest things we can do to improve the quality of life for so many people around the world.” Mark Zuckerberg
A Better Timeline
But with an overall decline, Facebook recently announced they are going to reduce the amount of non-friend activity on your timeline as a result of young people leaving. For small businesses like mine, when I make a post, none of my followers will see it unless I pay advertising, this will also have less reach per pound. This is ok for big businesses as they have the ability to increase spending, whereas small businesses don't have that budget manovue. In a way I can understand this a I don't want to see masses of adverts when I log on. There is a way to support and make sure you see the posts of the pages you follow by simply Liking or Commenting on their posts. Or by clicking on the Following button then Click SEE FIRST, also Turn off Notifications. Then when the page makes a post it'll be on your timeline.
Facebook became notorious in 2017 for spreading misinformation, and, through its targeted advertising tools, enabling election interference. Note Facebook didn't post false news, people using it did. As investigations unfold it’s clear that News Feed has become a political weapon. Fake News was born, even though in the mass media it's always existed, right-wing news moguls create and only tell you things to help their agenda anyway. But in social media fake news became worse than this as the internet has no fact checking, at least news agencies have to prove what they say where as it seems Russia was creating realistic news stories that were completely fabricated but stated as fact to misinform and manipulate millions of people. As was Trump, his whole campaign created "its Fake News" only to spread it more than anyone else. Genius really. The Brexit campaign ob both sides also did this to a certain extent. But the television news and newspapers did this also. I avoid the News generally until i'm ready to see it, or I end up screaming at the injustice and stupidity of the world. On a social level it only takes one person to say a celebrity is dead for it to spread like wildfire online. Facebook are determined more than ever to stamp out fake accounts and people who abuse its platform for inciting hate or abuse. Practically I don't know how they can apart from making Reporting more easier and reacting upon it quicker. As with Governments who often create laws to monitor its people, inevitably take some of their freedom to stop terrorists taking our freedom is an ironic, delicate balance.
End of Facebook?
If people are more comfortable posting & liking pictures on Instra & people use Twitter to ramble and make opinions, use Snapchat to post throwaway pictures and augmentations, where does this leave Facebook? People on Facebook feel like they are on show if they Like or Discuss things, they don't want to be judged for it. That’s the appeal of SnapChat or Stories, the post deletes itself after a day leaving no trace for snooping or judgment. Maybe Facebook will become completely redundant and cease to exist? For me, on FB I can follow all my interests of Art, Science, Humour and most my friends conveniently all in one place. I really enjoy making posts on my page that has the ability to excite or inspire people, one of the main reasons for art! Sharing, interacting with fellow humans is one of the most enjoyable essential parts of being alive. Of course its often better to do this in person, but social networks allow you to do this on a different level. Its easy to become bored or ridicule facebook for all the selfies or pictures of peoples dinners, the nonsense rambling, but it also has the ability to become a great human network of creativity, understanding and humour. Of course Facebook could be the opposite, fueling procrastination, the enemy of your productivity and purpose, people often deactivate their account while studying for an exam or busy meeting deadlines. Some people think that Facebook increases communication with their friends as they can interact where as before they couldn't!
How often do you see someone on social media that appears nothing like they do in real life. Or vise-versa, on dating apps where people meet for the first time only to realise their picture was from a certain angle using several filters to make them look like a modal. Sure, looking at seemingly perfect bodies all day makes you feel crap about yourself. It seems like everyone is perfect! Hm.. The modern trend for girls is to augment their pictures with cat ears or animal eyes which make them look like something out of Japanese Manga, but nothing like themselves! I guess you could see this feature as representing masks in the real world, where its easier to hide behind something than worry about how you look, it strangely gives you a sense of freedom. Instagram is a popular tool for constructing an eye-candy confection of “look-at-how-awesome-my-existence-is.” Gym selfies are the current trend, millions of girls posting flattering angles and twisting their bodies for a pic that probably doesn't accurately represent them. “Everyone wants to be the most beautiful girl with the most magazine style life. Instagram provides a platform where you can enter that competition every day.” If you're vunerable about your body to start with, seeing 'pefect' bodies will ony make it worse. Are body posers saying look at me! You should feel crap about yourself cus i'm better! Or are they feeling proud in their achievment of hard work to get like that? Really, what you take from it is up to you. It's your choice to feel envy, pride or nothing when you see these pictures. But maybe its ok to use social networks to be something else, your ideal self. Many studies of younger people on social media have been suggesting it increases mental health issues, bullying and abuse. I would say that these problems already existed and social media simply represents these conditions. Anxiety and depression is on the increase every year but is technology to blame, or is our culture escalating it regardless? After all, technology is an extension of ourselves and abilities. We've all seen it, its not technologies fault when a couple you see at a meal are glued to their phones instead of talking to each other.
We've given up a lot of our personal information to make life easier for us. This is the trade off. Our phones can track everything we do, from every step to monitor health, to what we buy, gender, weight, political stance etc etc. Facebook knows it all so advertisers can target their primary customer. Seems a bit invasive but its not just Facebook. Google maps tells me how long it'll take me to get home when I get in the car. How does it know where home is or when I'm in my car. But it also tells me to avoid bad traffic, get a better route and so I can find where I'm going anywhere in the world! Technology has made life easier in lots of ways. Of course this is an Orwellian Nightmare, where everything is monitored to keep tracks of us and sell us things. But luckily western Governments aren't so overtly censoring and controlling us compared to Chinese Government for example, who controls internet content.
Make of it what you WIll
Mobile phone technology is progressing quicker than any other with social networks existing at the centre creating new features to interact, share in a virtual world. Of course there will always be issues contradicting its main purpose, i'm sure Facebook will be at the centre for better and worse. Facebook will end certain features and create new ones to move with the quickly changing world. Really, you make it what it is. You can use it as much or little as you want, taking the fun interesting parts and ignoring the things you don't. I think most people use it cus they're bored or to escape. Maybe a good idea is to turn off all notifications from social media and wait until you open the app to catch up with things? We don't want to be a slave to your phone? Just as I don't follow the news until i'm ready, maybe we could do the same for people who post stuff we find annoying. This would make a better timeline, I 'See First' option the pages and people I like to follow like I shown earlier. So for me it does enhance my interests, fun, interaction with my friends, find new knowledge about the world, sometimes, in between Trump's latest crazy idea, and is great for my business, though we must be careful not to let it influence us too much, or get in the way of a better life interaction with real life. Sometimes it might be easier to log on in a virtual world than confront our problems of work, ambition, insecurities, relationships though you may find it makes them worse if you believe too much of what you see. Facebook will change and innovate, the power of social media to effect you is in your hands, you decide how to percieve. Future technology and how it'll interact with us is incredibly exciting, I'm looking forward to see where it takes us.