Various online media outlets have been reporting Facebook is experiencing a numbers slump. Sky news writes approximately 6 million North American users deleted their accounts in May, in addition to 100,000 British users. This is a drop in the bucket when considering Facebook reportedly has roughly 600 million users, but after reading about Justin Timberlake's involvement with efforts to purchase former social network juggernaut Myspace from News Corp., it got me wondering about what social media was originally intended for and why it's popularity can be represented with the see-sawing graphics of a bar chart.
Remember Friendster? Yeah, neither do I. But I'm told it was mighty popular at one point. It was quickly eclipsed by Myspace until Mark Zuckerberg got into the social network racket by duping his college peers. Like rats from sinking ships, users migrated from one site to the next with stopwatch predictability. But why? Don't all these sites do the same thing (i.e., allow us to cyberstalk our friends and co-workers)? The only cause I can point at for these unexplained diasporas is due to the invisible hand of the hipster culture.
Yes, those mustachio wearing, fixed-gear riding, Panda Bear-appreciating douchebags whose self-righteous musings are rivaled only by Grateful Dead fans. I would argue it's the hipsters' unwavering desperation to look cool that has led to the rise and fall of various social networks. More after the jump. In the days of Myspace, a hipster had to select the proper background color, filigree and layout for his homepage if he was going to make the cut and gain at least 300 friends. His blogs had to be elaborately worded, yet vaguely insightful so that his friends felt stupid while reading them. This imbued the hipster with a sense of superiority, which he sorely craved.
And those profile pics? We all know the amount of effort put into shooting and picking the proper requires vasts amounts of effort--like taking a nude self-portrait on the streets of Long Beach and posing next to two homeless crack heads. (You know who you are.)
But your average hipster, like the sewer rat, is a fickle, greasy creature who bores easily and is always in search of a new shiny object to play with before the rest of the hoard. Myspace didn't do itself any favors by becoming so bloated with design options it slowed the fastest of computers inadvertently taking people back to the age of dial-up modems (hmmm...time for a new hipster trend?) As a result, people hopped on the Facebook wagon and have been updating their statuses ever since.
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So in the absence of browser-crashing slowness, why are hipsters growing bored with the social network they have in front of them? Facebook is as good as it ever was at bringing people together. In real time, I am notified that that cute girl with the Dan Auerbach obsession prefers Kindles to Knooks--and prefers both to actual books. I love knowing that a casual acquaintance just checked in at the fixed-gear bicycle marathon in north county, or that PBRs are only a dollar at some really sweet dive in La Habra that I wouldn't take a hooker to.
Ultimately the ebb and flow of the social network universe may come down to motivation. Actually doing these things in the realm of reality takes effort. There comes a moment when the hipster must decide whether to have fun doing a thing, or look cool doing a thing. As we all know, hipsters are a lazy bunch, and multitasking can become a grind.
Of course it's also possible the luster of cool promised by the technology of Facebook has grown trite in its popularity with normies, thereby making it less attractive to their refined sense of cool. Perhaps the only thing strong enough to motivate lethargic hipsters out of their perma- state of affectless cool is the promise of a new trend. The question is will they quest for the next big thing will stop using social networking sites altogether?