A few years ago I took to social media like the proverbial duck to water. As the self-designated "Queen of Small Talk" I found it to be a wonderful outlet to share daily events and observations. Everywhere I went I encouraged people to join me and engage in the fun on Facebook. The more my friend list grew, the more fun I had on the site. For me, fun is irresistible so I logged on frequently and shared in the seemingly never-ending clever repartee.
It actually saddens me that these days I'm finding Facebook to be far less entertaining and engaging. But why? My friend list continues to grow, though much slower than it did initially, and I'm certain these friends are just as clever now as they were before. But where did they go? Genuine engagements have nearly disappeared. My newsfeed is littered with posts that would've been caught in a spam filter if they were emails, making it a fairly tedious task to scroll through looking for glimmers of my friends' originality. With my fairly short attention span, this quickly leads to boredom. Once I leave bored, I'm not going to be in much of a hurry to return.
Though I'm sure there are many explanations for the diminishing engagements, I think one big cause of the change is marketing. In the early days of social media, businesses were wary about this new platform and were slow to adapt and utilize it for marketing purposes - leaving the site for purely social interactions. The impact of a marketing message grows commensurate with the size of the group it reaches. Once businesses and advertising agencies realized how fast Facebook was growing, they comprehended the power of being 'liked'. These days everywhere we look, we're being implored to 'like' a wide myriad of products and services and share it with our friends. The more we 'like', the more marketing-type posts we're going to find on our newsfeeds.
Marketing isn't limited to big business either. Many small and micro-business people continuously update about their business activities while seldomly sharing anything personal. Social media, and Facebook in particular, has to be a panacea for non-profits. Mimicking the practice of putting neighbors on our doorsteps to raise funds for worthy causes, we now have friends peddling for money on our newsfeeds.
Combining all these marketing messages with oft-repeated quotes, cute pictures of animals, pleas to show one's hate of cancer, love of God and country - and we'll manage quite sufficiently to squelch the clever wit of the people who at one time brought us genuine engagement and fun. And when that happens, we'll go somewhere else to find our fun.
I realize marketing is an integral part of the Facebook experience, afterall it foots the bills. But something needs to be done to restore and encourage people-to-people interactions or we'll soon be applying the Yogi Berra-ism "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded".
Do you agree? Do you access Facebook more or less than you once did?
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