Friday, February 20, 2009

I Hope I'm Not Protesting Too Much

As it reaches it's fifth birthday, Facebook has gotten a lot of it's own "face time" in the news. First, there was a bit of a brew-ha-ha over Facebook's new "Terms of Service" policy.  Then, this week's Fortune Magazine featured a cover story entitled "How Facebook is Taking Over Our Lives."

But the one that bugged me was Lev Grossman's article listing ten reasons "Why Facebook is for Old Fogies" in Time Magazine.  

Grossman states:
There was a time when it was cool to be on Facebook. That time has passed. Facebook now has 150 million members, and its fastest-growing demographic is 30 and up. At this point, it's way cooler not to be on Facebook. We've ruined it for good, just like we ruined Twilight and skateboarding. So git! And while you're at it, you damn kids better get off our lawn too.
First of all, the "middle-aged" user shown in the illustration looks like Alan Greesnspan (who is well past middle age).   I shouldn't blame Grossman for that.  I doubt he approved the picture. I'd also point out that the actual file name for that particular image is "a_lnerdworld_0223.jpg." But, I suppose, only a "nerd" would notice that.

However, all of the middle-aged lifestyle items Grossman lists may explain the surge in social-networking sites for that group in general, but, with the exception of number 5, doesn't really give any insight into WHY Facebook has more members than other similar types of websites, such as MySpace.  Curiously Grossman NEVER even mentions MySpace

My own theory for Facebook's success is that connecting with people in it is like having a cold beer with an old friend at a nice pub. MySpace’s environment, on the other hand, is the web equivalent of a urinal trough conversation in the men's room at a KISS concert.

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