I came across this post yesterday by a former Harvard student who looks back fondly on the days when “thefacebook” was thrilling and fun.
It’s hard to remember, now, but there was a time when Facebook was the most exciting thing on the Internet.
Implicit in this statement, of course, is the fact that it is no longer true. A fact that apparently resonated with the tech elite, since this post made it to the front page of Hacker News.
This all got me wondering: Is Facebook still fun?
Like so many things, it is evident that Facebook has become well trodden. For me, it’s moved past its utility as a personal social network and become a part of my business. After all, you can’t be in public relations today and not have Facebook play a role in your thinking.
Do I find interesting things to read on Facebook, clever images and attention-grabbing video? Yes. Do I enjoy keeping up with friends, colleagues and family on Facebook? Yes. Could I do these things as easily in another way? No.
So, clearly Facebook is still valuable. As a tool.
But is it fun?
Perhaps comparisons would shed some light.
- My iPhone is fun. My landline is not.
- Eating lunch out is fun. Eating a homemade sandwich is not.
- Driving my Prius is fun. Driving a minivan is not.
No matter how many new features Facebook launches, it will never again be the new thing everyone is discovering. It’s been around long enough that it has also begun to lose the coolness it once had. For something to be cool it has to have some real or perceived exclusivity, and Facebook is used by such a massive number of people that such exclusivity is impossible.
Facebook has become the social networking equivalent of the old AT&T, before it was broken up. It’s a virtual monopoly of online interaction. Ubiquitous, yes. Fun, maybe not so much.
Of course, this raises an interesting issue. If Facebook is no longer the “it” network, what is? I don’t think there’s a clear winner. Which makes the whole question perplexing. If there’s nothing in the wings waiting to knock off Facebook, then its time is clearly not past.
So, maybe Facebook is still cool and fun. Perhaps it’s just fun for those fairly new to it. Can it be that Facebook has become old hat only to those of us who have been using it for a long time, like the Harvard alum who wrote the post I saw on Hacker News?
Maybe, just maybe, the problem with Facebook … is me.