Fleeing Facebook?

Bear with me, because this is a long sentence, but: It stands to reason that, if your social life is represented online and that online representation is hosted by a corporation, then it follows that there’d be a certain “commercialization and corporate regulation of [the part of your] personal and social life” that’s represented in its site. Don’t you think? Why am I bringing this up? Because New York Times columnist Virginia Heffernan in the Times Magazine reports that she “asked around”; found that “a small but noticeable group [of users] are fleeing” Facebook; one of the more ostentatious fleers is Leif Harmsen; and his biggest beef is that “commercialization and corporate regulation” of one’s social life that social networking represents. Heffernan writes about waves of Facebook disillusionment, the third one being made up of people “bored with it, obscurely sore or just somehow creeped out – though the numbers don’t exactly indicate a large exodus (nearly 88 million US visitors in July, she cites comScore as finding). I think these people she’s referring to are all Gen X-ers and Baby boomers. It does feel a little voyeuristic or a bit much, maybe, if you 1) did not grow up with social media necessarily hosted by social-media companies and 2) don’t have real reasons for social networking, such as keeping up with distant friends, playing online games with distant friends, finding long-lost friends, managing an alumni association, monitoring your kids’ social lives, marketing your cause or business, or professional networking. I’m not saying youth all have specific purposes in using social sites, but adults seem to need purposes for them to feel useful – because they “got along just fine without them before.” See what I mean?

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