The secret is out. According to the latest social-media experts and Internet click counters, teens have been shifting away from Facebook as their preferred online hangout. Piper Jaffray released a survey last month indicating Twitter has taken the lead over Facebook as being teens’ most important social media (Rick Montgomery, “Teens Say ‘Meh’ to Facebook’s Drama, Flock to Other Networks” The Kansas City Star, November 3, 2013, pp. A1, A18). Many teens still keep up with Facebook, but it is not their primary peer-to-peer place to be.
Obvious to most people, in the past several years, numerous other age groups and businesses have embraced Facebook. Facebook has become their virtual neighborhood and backyard fence. I see that trend only continuing.
These changes to the Facebook clientele have led to some interesting and powerful reactions among teens. A few days after Montgomery’s article, The Kansas City Star published a letter from Natalie Nuessle, a Kansas City teen. Here are excerpts from Nuessle’s letter I felt provide the most significant insights (November 7, 2013, p. A14):
“We don’t use [Facebook] anymore because it has become so popular and so crowded that we don’t feel heard any longer. Places like Vine, Snapchat, Twitter and even Tumblr make us feel as if we have a voice in a community, one that we can’t have outside the Internet until we’re ‘respected’ adults. Earning respect and popularity with our peers is easy compared to the years or decades it takes for the rest of the world to notice us. When that world floods our networks and causes all sorts of security problems that could blur the line between our ‘inr’—in real life—personalities, we flee to somewhere safer, smaller, easier to understand. . . . Yes, we are fleeing Facebook, not because it’s popular, but because we feel it’s no longer safe.”
I admire teens for their vision, drive, and passion to be early adopters in social media. I respect them for their decisions to change their platforms when the new Facebook no longer suits their needs. I thank them for the insights they have articulated about how and why some social media sites work for them and others do not. I appreciate them for their willingness to change over time.
I think the philosopher was right when he said, you can never step in the same river twice. Some people today do not want to step in once.