It seems as if some of us are beyond convinced that online social networks are merely just a passing fad. Although there’s a lot of room for improvement, it’s hard to argue that social networking sites won’t be sticking around for the long term. There’s 3 claims in particular that come up over and over again:
Absurd claim #1: a social network backlash is imminent.
We’ve heard this argument before, but it never seems to hold much weight. This is the belief that a majority of us are going to get overwhelmed with social networking sites and start to walk away from them in increasing numbers. Sure there will always be a small group of individuals who decide to take a permanent social network sabbatical, but this crowd is a small minority. Most of the somewhat influential people who claim to quit Facebook do so for attention and a majority don’t end up quitting permanently. Some individuals talk about “how good things use to be” when we had to actually make a phone call or write a letter to communicate (really? come on) and make claims that Fackbook hurts more than helps, however most of these naysayers are hypocrites who still have Facebook accounts and yet still take an anti-technology stance. The truth is that a large number of people aren’t going to wake up one day and decide to stop using social networking sites. It’s just not going to happen.
Absurd claim #2: full market saturation.
Every social network has a saturation point, the moment when it has peaked and will no longer be able to sustain growth in users. Myspace didn’t reach a saturation point, it just failed to innovate and got very stagnant very quickly. Nobody knows how long Facebook will remain number one, but history tell us that they’ll level off or eventually decline as something better comes along. Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn are light years away from fulfilling their potential. If they cease to grow at some point it won’t be due to saturation, but rather a lack of ability to meet the changing demands of their user base.
As of 2011 we’re only scratching the surface. We look at social networks as if they were as wide as Lake Michigan, without taking into consideration that in reality they have the depth and span of the Pacific Ocean.
Think about the number of people in the world who enjoy watching the game of baseball. Now think about how many people converge online to talk about baseball. The online network isn’t an accurate reflection of the actual network. What’s going to happen when the online and offline worlds merge more frequently? What happens when social is built into everything? What happens when mobile tech is rampant and just about everyone in every corner of the globe is connected at all times? Online social networks will begin to become a more accurate reflection of both close social circles and wide niche networks (such as basesball fans in the world). Online social networks will increase in depth, in number, and in value.
Absurd claim #3: social networks are a bubble/fad/trend
This just doesn’t make sense. Saying that social networks are a fad is akin to saying that the need to communicate with other people comes and goes like the changing of the weather. What? Really?
Online social networks are a natural progression of communication. Technology is the means by which we look to communicate more efficiently. Saying that social networking is a bubble would be to challenge the very need for human contact.
A world without online social networks?
If it sounds crazy, it’s because it is.