Is Facebook past its prime?

Nobody left to 'friend'? Too many friends anyway? Why Facebook when you can Twitter? In the here-today-gone-tomorrow world of social media, these common complaints may mark the beginning of the end of Facebook's enormous popularity.

4. Having Too Many Friends Takes the Edge off Facebook Postings

The downside of racking up so many friends on Facebook is that it's no longer safe to speak honestly about your thoughts and feelings. "I hate my job" used to be safe. But now you're friends with your boss and your colleagues. "I'm still hung over from last night" was once legit, but now your younger cousin is on there, and she has always looked up to you. Most people would prefer R-rated status updates from their friends, to keep things interesting, but instead everyone is sinking into precautionary PG territory, and it's getting rather dull. (For more on this subject, see "How to Avoid Facebook and Twitter Disasters.)

You've also probably grown up quite a bit in the five-plus years since Facebook began, in which case you aren't the same person who created your original profile and started writing on people's walls. Unfortunately, deleting all of that history is a big pain. You get a new boyfriend and have to wipe out all the photo albums of the old one. You get a new job and have to go scour your profile for inappropriate comments before friending your new colleagues. Reinventing yourself is hard with a wall full of history memorializing your past.

5. After That '25 Things' Note, There's Not Much Left to Say

First you filled out a long list of interests, hobbies, favorite movies, books, and music; posted album after album of the hottest pictures of yourself; and wrote endless updates about what you were up to. Then, a few months ago, the 25 Things note burst onto the Facebook scene, inviting you to achieve new levels of narcissism by laboring over a creative autobiographical fact sheet and posting it to your profile. Responding to that challenge, you were more candid, literary, and elaborate than ever, but now there's nowhere to go but down.

Illustrating this depressing fact is the recent, hideous Facebook trend of using quiz results as status updates. "Which kind of partier are you?" Result: "The hot girl throwing up in the bathroom!" ... "Which kind of animal noise are you?" Result: "Ribbit, Ribbit!" Facebookers are clearly wiped out of material. There is nothing more to say.

Facebook's long-term survival is up to the people who use it. The first order of business might be to just say "no" to publishing the quizzes. Quiz results are no match for original content, even if it consists of your latest report on making the bed or washing your hair. Another key issue is to choose your friends carefully. Is the prospective friend (your boss, your grandmother, your ex) going to force boringness on your future updates? Is this newcomer's presence going to require you to censor your wall? If so, click 'ignore' in response to the person's friend request. More is not necessarily merrier when it comes to Facebook. It's the old quality over quantity thing: The quality of the content people share at Facebook may contribute to the longevity of the site far more than the sheer number of people who connect with eachother.

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Hillary Rhodes

PC World (US online)
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