Fads come and go, as they always have, yet some people are still surprised when they go. So it is with Facebook, which was once widely touted as a permanent change in human interaction but now seems to be heading the way of bell bottom pants, eight-track tapes, and the Occupy Wall Street movement.
This welcome news comes to us via the Washington Examiner, which reports that Americans are abandoning Facebook “in droves.” The paper cites a poll conducted by the Pew Center in which 61 percent of the respondents said they are taking long breaks from the social media site, with 38 percent of the all-important 18- to 29-year-old users saying they plan to cut back on their Facebook time. One of every five adults, probably the most intelligent of them, said they planned to quit altogether.
Various explanations are offered for this phenomenon. About 21 percent of the poll respondents said they have “run out of time,” leading one to wonder why they have suddenly become so busy, while 20 percent cited either a lack of “compelling content” or a “general lack of interest in the site,” which requires no explanation. Another 9 percent said there was too much gossip at the site, which is admirable, although perhaps they meant the gossip was too mundane. Reuters reports that some German researchers have concluded that Facebook causes feelings of envy and loneliness in some people who read of their friends’ vacations, love affairs, and other happy occasions, although our usual reaction is a sense of relief that the lives of our friends and acquaintances are as dull as our own. Yet another report indicates that Facebook is figuring in a large number of divorces, however, so perhaps those friends’ lives aren’t so dull after all.
Politics wasn’t mentioned in the poll, but we suspect that is always driving a few people away from Facebook. A friend of ours was quite avid about the site until recently, when he finally decided he’d had enough of the liberal screeds that were routinely posted on his page. The final straw, he told us, was someone’s exuberant rant about the commanding hand gestures that Hillary Clinton used during her congressional testimony to fend off questions about her incompetence and dishonesty in the Benghazi scandal. There are no doubt liberals equally annoyed by the conservative rants of some of their friends, but we’ve noticed that for some reason the right is less likely to express itself on Facebook.
The Facebook company seems to have its own liberal biases. An anti-Obama posting was censored by Facebook during the presidential campaign until a number of complaints forced them to allow it, while a “Kill Romney” site was countenanced until another round of complaints finally forced it off the site. Facebook apparently has used the same sort of Cayman Islands accounts for which Romney was pilloried during the campaign, and pays surprisingly little in taxes, and one of its founders even renounced his American citizenship rather than pay any taxes at all but of course such shenanigans can be forgiven a company with such impeccable liberal credentials.
Still, the rise and fall of Facebook will no doubt take many by surprise. The company was so celebrated there was a hit movie about it, it’s initial public offering was the most ballyhooed financial event of the past year, and some supposedly smart business analysts fretted that its declining stock prices would drag the entire economy down with it. We suspect the world will get along nicely with a diminished Facebook, and it might even find something better to do.
Now if we could only get that tattoo fad to go away.
— Bud Norman