After reading this story on Quartz, I figured I needed to verify this ongoing debate about teens abandoning Facebook and Twitter for more “private” and “intimate” alternatives like Snapchat or Facebook Messenger.
So I posted this story to both my classes in digital publishing. And here’s what they said. (But before I go listing down their reasons, they all agreed, they’re NOT migrating away from Facebook or Twitter anytime soon).
Disclaimer: This is NOT based on any scientific method such as random surveys of a certain demographic of Filipino teenagers. What you are about to read are personal observations & notes from two groups of students in my PUBLISH class.
- They are using various social media as channels for specific communication purposes. Facebook is seen as a public square where they are less keen on sharing private and intimate matters. They move from one social media network to another based on the perceived level of privacy. (Facebook has some privacy settings, guys).
- Facebook is where old people congregate–some teens admit to blocking their parents–an idea that baffled me, considering I have daughters on Facebook!
- They talk a lot through messaging services like Facebook Messenger, Viber, WeChat, etc. That’s their version of a water-cooler effect–a phenomenon where people gather in a certain area to chat.
- Twitter is where they post random thoughts, rants, and opinions about things that matter to them. They go to Twitter to argue a point. They also see Twitter as source of news about politics, the society and celebrities.
- Snapchat, to them, is a “private social network,” but it is NOT for everyone. They believe that Snapchat is designed for more “narcissistic” fellows— or those who want to share moments in their lives to smaller group of trusted friends.
- Snapchat is where you post crazy stuff, one of my students said. I asked if they are willing to add me as a friend on Snapchat. I got jeers and grunts. Not a good idea.
- Not all students in my class are on Snapchat. But they are all on Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter & Instagram. Some say all social media platforms are important, but to a certain degree. They have preferences. But they admit that they love to TALK all the time, thus social media networks are perfect channels for this compulsion. (Fellow teachers, your students are talkative, albeit virtually, during classes).
- Facebook, to some students, is useful for school matters. Ha! I do require them to be in a Facebook group. But there are alternatives like — er, Slack, anyone?
- Again, they all insist that THERE IS NO MASS MIGRATION from Facebook/Twitter to Snapchat and messaging services.
- Teens feel lost in more “adult-driven” conversations that fill-up their feeds. They feel that Facebook is clogged with topics that they don’t care about. Thus, they gravitate towards simpler and accessible services like Snapchat.
- Meanwhile, one student went on to say that she’s getting annoyed by her 12-year-old sister’s random postings coupled with emoticons.
This debate about teens and millennials moving away from Facebook and Twitter will become less of an issue, as the younger generation discover niche communities where their voices are heard. Facebook and Twitter are both becoming global platforms where conversations are varied. There’s too much noise in these platforms. It’s a natural progression for human beings to socialize with people who share their same interests–and of course, who are of the same age and demographic.
It’s hard to imagine young people abandoning Facebook and Twitter because there are alternatives. There’s this FEAR OF MISSING OUT #FOMO, which still pervades their thinking.
On the other hand, Facebook and Twitter represent permanence on the Internet. The Snapchats of this world represent platforms that offer respite from regret of posting a mistake or a bad joke, which we sometimes, we do commit.
But isn’t it that the Internet has a long-term memory of the world. It’s our modern record of human history, sliced thinly into bits and bytes.