“Are you on Friendster?” That was a question posed to me by a friend my freshman year of college. The summer was fast approaching and we needed a way to keep in touch. Friendster served this purpose nicely. It was, essentially, the less-skeevy version of MySpace; you created an account, uploaded a profile picture, posted photos (but only, like, 10 if I remember correctly), and connected with friends.
Fast forward seven years and Friendster is dead, MySpace is a shell of its former self, and Facebook reigns supreme among the massive public-facing social media sites. Google wagered that Facebook would fade like those before it when it created Google+. They turned out to be wrong, but not about everything.
According to this article on the NY Times Bits blog, teenagers are slowly abandoning Facebook but not in favor of any large-scale all-encompassing competitor. No, teenagers prefer the relative anonymity and privacy of services like Twitter, Tumblr, and Snapchat. For teenagers, Facebook is more about poking around than interacting. They go there, look at what others have posted, but they do very little communicating.
And this is fine, to an extent. You should be allowed to post wherever you want, and if you want to interact directly with a smaller group of people, great. But that doesn’t mean you should ditch your public profiles altogether.
Presenting your best self possible is extremely important when you’re applying to jobs and looking for a career. Facebook provides a training ground for this. Additionally, being able to build a presence that can appeal to hundreds if not thousands of people without sacrificing personality is an impressive feat, one that a lot of companies would pay you good money to replicate.
As the article mentions, Facebook might be experiencing its midlife crisis and it might all be down hill from here. But even today, when things seem to go in and out of fashion in about fifteen minutes, it’ll still take some time for Facebook to die. While it may not be the most popular site among teens, it’s still one of the most popular sites out there with users who span across many generations, so knowing how to communicate through it and use it to your advantage is still absolutely essential.