Article | by Steph Musgrove
Facebook: not-so-social media for teens
Article | by Steph Musgrove
There are a multitude of reasons as to why I personally don’t use Facebook – although it must be emphasised that these may not apply to everyone. Most of my friends, despite having accounts, use Facebook for little more than stalking people or receiving invites to large events. I haven’t suffered personally for not being able to do either: I spend enough time procrastinating on social media without the lure of scrolling through my second-cousin’s holiday in 2012, and if people wanted to invite me to events then they would generally just ask me elsewhere. Young people like myself have a far more prominent presence on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram – and consequently there is little point in spending time on “social” media where very little socialising would occur.
Facebook’s older user base also generates a fairly formal atmosphere; on a site where you are connected to both family and work, it is hard to maintain a laid-back attitude, and inevitably ends up in either embarrassing yourself or self-censorship. The concept of sharing details of my life to a room full of acquaintances, colleagues, and extended family would not appeal to me in the real world, and I personally don’t see the difference between doing this on or off-line. Facebook’s ‘Friends’ system merges all three categories into one, and culminates in an awkward culture of oversharing, which wouldn’t occur in real life.
I have also found that, despite spending so much time on it, I don’t really prioritise posting on social media – it incurs far too much hassle when painstakingly editing photos, cultivating a theme and then intelligently captioning them. My Instagram updates occur once-a-month at best, and although I’ve had Twitter for over two years, I have yet to post an original tweet. The idea of adding yet another app to stress about just doesn’t appeal to me.
Honestly, I waste far too much time mindlessly scrolling through various platforms on my phone; I just don’t happen to waste this time on Facebook. Apps like Instagram and Snapchat have taken precedence, and (despite their undeniable similarities) have made Facebook redundant. Here are my reasons for choosing Instagram and Snapchat over Facebook.
On Instagram, users are able to experience the highlights of each other’s lives, displayed in an aesthetically pleasing, albeit idealised, manner. It maintains the wide range of content found on Facebook, but feels much more personalised – irrelevant videos will appear on your feed only if you choose to follow those who post them. In theory, it also encourages more interesting, high-quality content through the mandatory photography element (although in practice the photography skills of many users does leave something to be desired). There will always be some users who post mundane or irrelevant content, and this must sometimes be accepted if the perpetrator is a friend or family member.
Of course, Instagram is definitely not without faults. Indeed, those who don’t post the occasional dull image may sometimes fall into the trap of glamorising their life to the extent where it no longer resembles reality, creating an arena in which teens fight to have the most appealing life. But in spite of its faults, Instagram cannot be said to be boring. Personally, I prefer to take this interesting content with a grain of salt, and perhaps just post less than others.
With the content aspect of Facebook generally covered by the likes of Instagram, it remains for Snapchat to compensate for the communication element. Though again relatively similar, Snapchat’s unique features and fun design creates a much more informal atmosphere, which to me, feels more suited for light-hearted conversations with friends.
The one area in which Snapchat doesn’t quite compare to Facebook is connecting with employers or colleagues – I wouldn’t want to communicate with them in such a casual fashion. However, I have found that the existence of platforms like WhatsApp and even just texting has left no veritable reason for me to rely on Facebook messenger.
I don’t quite feel confident enough to declare: “I would never use Facebook” – since social media is constantly changing, and who knows what Facebook could be like in ten years. There have actually been times where I considered getting it, especially when it came to the fear of not getting generic invitations to parties, or (more recently) wondering how it will affect me meeting people in University. Regardless of these moments, I am still not really interested in the platform and think the problems posed by not having it are definitely outweighed by the benefits.
Ultimately, I may not be the best person to ask about the pros and cons of Facebook – having had very little actual experience on the site, aside from viewing over a friend’s shoulder, reading articles and screenshots of posts. It may be that many of my views are not based on the full picture, however, the conversations I have had with others who have used the site generally share the same sentiments.
The value of Facebook appears to lie not with the site, but actually the users: how relevant a social media platform seems to depend on what the people around you use – if everyone used only Facebook, it would be fine to use it exclusively, however with people increasingly looking elsewhere to find their social media fix, the move to other apps must be inevitable. After all, social media is supposed to be just that: social. And for me, Facebook isn’t.