As Facebook turns 10 years old today, naturally the web is abundant with reflection combined with harsh speculation theorising its future, fervently shouting “The End of Facebook” and questioning “Is Facebook dead and buried?”
As the world begins to personify Facebook (something which Facebook’s former CTO recently has confessed that he didn’t initially believe possible), attributing it with some form of ‘consciousness’ lamenting “Facebook told me that…” isn’t this is the perfect opportunity to stop and remind ourselves what Facebook really is and reflect on that - rather than writing an autopsy for a network that isn’t even dead yet?
Facebook’s foundations are found in the content which its users are generating, engaging with and in turn actively participating in. We must remind ourselves that Facebook is a tool for our own communication and that the computer is not some form of ‘higher being’ above the levels of our own intelligence. We each have personal value on these social networking sites - without us logging in theres nothing left to log in for. Willie Osterweil noted that “we attribute consciousness to the network itself - rather than to the people who constitute it. When we personify objects, we also objectify persons”. Facebook itself cannot ‘die’, it just becomes no longer useful to its user.
And it's far from ‘dead’; it has over a billion users worldwide. Sometimes I feel like we get lost in the gigabits and the megabites and are losing site of what is at the heart of it all - connection. Facebook will last as long as its users continue to log in, MySpace was evidence of this. We are simply at a point where we are more interconnected than ever before, in some ways enhancing our abilities to share, laugh and connect, and in others, emphasising our over-indulgence in curiosity and self-absorption. Facebook continues to still be a large part of our digitally connected lives because it has continued to adapt and change to what its users want - something seen in its widely noticed shifted attitude from web based to mobile-first format. Facebook has adapted to the fact that its users have become more mobile themselves.
We commit ourselves in varying forms to various social media platforms - it's not an ‘all or nothing’ situation, theres no need to ‘disconnect’ or detox from our digital lifestyles as long as stability between the online and offline can be found. As our seemingly ‘two lives’ of the online and offline merge we must begin to stop seeing them as separate and understand it from a perspective of ‘digital duality’; there’s a lot of reality in the virtual and a lot of virtual in in our reality. Social media sites take as much as we give them and vice-versa - but to vilify the social media sites like Facebook and Twitter is to also vilify ourselves, for we are the make-up of this network - we are its biological DNA in binary form.