New Year, New You, New Social Media

Jan 03, 2014

When I was a kid, making a New Year's resolution was so much easier than it is today. All I had to do was pick one of the following statements: "Don't bite your nails," "No soda before bed," or "Don't fight with your brother." The older I get, the harder it becomes to resolve to do something I actually have a chance of doing. I could easily say I won't eat candy this year, but that would be a big fat lie. This year, I do have a resolution, though--one I think I can keep (I hope).

In 2014, I'm not using social media.

OK, you got me. That won't happen. I like the internet too much. But I do resolve to ditch old social media, and only use new social media.

No, I'm not coining a new term. To me, new social media is that group of newer social media sites that have popped up and have gained popularity and notoriety over the last year or two-Instagram and Vine, for example. For a long time, I kept away from these sites because I swore I only needed one or two social media platforms in my life to be happy (Facebook and Twitter). Turns out I was right, but I was wrong about which platforms.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of Facebook. I'm sick of the soapbox status updates, links, and ads. I'm bored with it all, and when I get bored, like many people, I get annoyed. Yes, Facebook did some great things this year. It may have single handedly saved journalism. But Facebook is coming up on its tenth birthday in 2014. For a social media site-that's pretty old. I've had friendships that have lasted less time than my relationship with Facebook. But in those 10 years since its inception, a lot of other platforms have made a name for themselves.

Take, for example, my new favorite site, Instagram. I know, I know. Instagram isn't new. But it has certainly gained a lot of users over the past year. According to a Pew Research study, Instagram adoption by internet users ages 18-29 grew from 28% in 2012 to 37% in 2013. That's a pretty big jump. And I can completely see why this site has become so popular with younger users. Even though Facebook owns Instagram, it has a completely different vibe than its parent site. First and foremost, it's visually based, so the chance of seeing a long-winded rant about something you probably don't care about is much less. You post a picture, add a quick caption, and throw in a couple hashtags: Boom! You're done.

Using Instagram reminds me of how I first felt using Twitter back in 2007-2008. It is fresh, new, and interesting, especially when compared to its counterpoint, Facebook. What is strange to me is that by becoming the biggest social networking site, used by a variety of age groups, Facebook has alienated a very key demographic -- one that helped build its popularity years ago: Teens. An article from The Guardian explains that, "the Global Social Media Impact Study found that as parents and older users Facebook, its younger users are shifting to alternative platforms" (though my fellow EContent columnists are skeptical).

This makes total sense now.

In 2013, Facebook saw one substantial area of growth-with the 65+ age group. No wonder young kids want to get away from Facebook. First they had to deal with their parents trying to friend them, and now their grand parents have joined the fun. I'm not saying that having an older generation embrace Facebook is a bad thing. It's great! To me, though, it just means that Facebook is running out of ways to break records and add users. Aaron Smith, a senior Pew researcher, explained why Facebook didn't see much growth in 2013 to The Washington Post, noting, "It's hard to get more than 85 percent of anyone doing anything."

It's definitely amazing that so many people all over the world use Facebook. But just like that Indie rock band you loved so much once and now can't stand because everyone else loves them too, Facebook may soon become old news. So, congratulations, Facebook. You won social media in 2013. But don't get too comfortable. 2014 is upon us, and who knows what the New Year will bring?