Facebook & Friends

The End of an Empire?

Learn how global tech giants are adapting to the constantly changing landscape of social networking

Roy Bailey

At the height of its conquering years, the Roman Empire covered more than forty modern nations and five million square kilometers of land. Rome had half a million men at any hour that could be called to arms, to go forward and battle against competition. The Italian city certainly left its mark on the ancient world and has helped shape our modern one, but what made Rome stride with precision towards any of her threats was not some profound political revolution nor some agricultural innovation; it was actually a drive towards the social. This next point might be gross, but it’s true. What buried a million animals and about five hundred thousand souls in rotten sand at the bottom of the gladiatorial Coliseum was truly nothing more than the good ole glorifying wish of the people. Relating the state of our modern day tech giant (Facebook) to the world’s most historically triumphant city might seem banal, but still I do it. Why? I believe the reason is quite clear: they both share a story and fate. Both, inarguably, conquered the globe, peaked magnificently , and   dramatically lost the good faith and inherent belief of those over whom they ruled.

In a recent poll conducted by the Daily Mail, it found that 72 percent of surveyed Americans distrust Facebook’s management of their personal data. The results released last November indicate that fifty-six percent of Americans believe Facebook has a negative impact on society. Respondents to this were also skeptical of other social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram. Surveys revealed what Caligula revealed in 41 AD, that when a subjugator builds vast monuments to commemorate their own greatness, the citizens (users) tend to stop filling the company treasury. I admit, it’s less romantic than what we’d want for a documentary on the two famed giants of social effluence, and it certainly is more pathetic than many people today tend to realize; the truth is, no one cares about Facebook anymore. The community on Facebook is a joke in and of itself due to the very nature of what Facebook is  (and, subsequently, what it is not).

It appears that we have been thrust into communal wading pools of dopamine dumping and meaningless chatter. What I mean is this: the users who are, at this moment, on Facebook and are truly enjoying it , well… they are paddling their opinions and sharing them with--you guessed it!--themselves. The reason community is a joke on Facebook is because there is no community on that platform. How can there be? Facebook has around 2.96 billion monthly active users and is the leading social network platform in 157 of 167 countries (94%). That isn’t a community; that is a throng, a crowd, a senseless march into mental destruction. As the great minds say, everything is denied, everything becomes a creed in a state like this (G.K. Chesterton).

The point is, the Facebook exodus is continuing as younger generations come forward and choose newer alternatives. Just in May of this past year, Facebook saw a 25% decrease in downloads, and the stagnant and declining numbers are just beginning to pile up. Check this new piece of evidence: only 27 percent of millennials (aged 25-38) actually used Facebook this past year. That number was at 48.6 percent in 2017. What happened? We know. At the moment, contemporary teenagers are TikTok’ing and Reel’ing their way into whatever dance trend is the new drip. The Facebook vibe check is sus and salty, know what I’m sayin, like, periodt. The modern culture is moving on from their mammoth network that once ruled supreme, and Facebook is now in a freefall towards contemporary irrelevance. What is humanity and culture doing about this? The answer is nothing. Fact-check it. The global movement has utterly lost its appeal (again, no one cares about keeping up with the 2006 high school reunion filled with 35 year olds); rather, it is community and  real people that are the vanguards of today’s trends. Fake profiles are rejected for being what they are: annoying and fake. Guidance from successful pioneers of social impact sounds entirely different now than probably ever before in the history of social networking (and yes, that includes Roman days). Currently, the innovators say things like, “make yourself findable,” and tag your location to encourage the businesses and places you frequent to be genuinely explored. They are saying to tag relevant users and avoid vague and meaningless hashtags which, in essence, encourage nothing and inspire absolutely no one. We are being told that to stay relevant on social media (and thus appeal to a new era of social users), one needs to engage in their community. Social Media is now about the communities that are built within it, and not the community that is built by the use of it.

This is, undeniably, a radical realization; social life is now about LIFE and not just about being social. People want to invest in other people and I, for one, walk with great pride today, side by side with my peers, knowing WE are making this happen.

The subtitle earlier was a lie; I needed to grab your attention. The reality is that the tech giants are NOT adapting to the changing landscape of social networking and life, they are instead dying because of it. I wait with great anticipation for the future of our social networking. I rally behind the necessary condition that caring for our communities comes first. I am recklessly confident that truth will find a way to trend once again. Finding YOUR people is the new goal of social media. It has become the modern day aqueduct which carries the life-sustaining elements to the freed and thirsty users of today. The network that gets this-- the app that connects people in their own communities--THAT network will be our future. \

And it’s here.