Last month research firm eMarketer reported that an estimated 2 million users from the iGeneration will leave Facebook. This demographic, also known as Generation Z and Post-Millennials, is generally defined as those born in the mid-1990s to early-2000s, with no specific end-date fixed as of yet. These are the kids we love to hate, and hate to love. This is the generation that grew up with the Internet. This is the generation with the world at their fingertips… quite literally. This is the generation that hasn’t yet had their wildest dreams shattered by the big bad world. They’ve been in front of a screen, online, and on social media from a very young age, making Xennials like me, Millennials, and Gen X-ers look like total technical ignoramuses.
Mark Zuckerberg was a college student when he created Facebook in 2004, and it was a by the kids, for the kids platform. Over the years, the social media and networking giant has grown to be the most popular platform, with over 2 billion current users. So why after all this time are these kids giving it up in 2018? And more importantly, where are they going?
Teenagers and young adults in 2018 seem to be most happy with the fleeting gratification that apps like Instagram and Snapchat offer. Both of these apps have a Stories feature, videos that are available for a 24-hour period and then disappear. Sharing a story is one of the only remaining fleeting aspects of the Internet. As well as easily consumed, Instagram and Snapchat don’t demand much from their users aside from some photos and videos.
Words aren’t their thing. So maybe it’s their attention span that’s to blame? (I mean, just look at how we binge watch Netflix, consuming entire series in just a few days. In pre-instant streaming times, that should have taken years!) And Gen Z does do words, but in fragments. Twitter, which recently lengthened its character limit to 280, is definitely gaining popularity with the Post-Millennials as well. These three platforms provide the kind of novelty and exclusivity that young consumers are looking for.
Even the kids who are younger than the iGeneration are prioritizing apps like Instagram and Snapchat over Facebook so much so that they don’t even—never even—had a Facebook account. And so the number of teens and pre-teens who have never created an account with Facebook is only going to increase in the coming years. Unless, of course, if Facebook miraculously turns things around and starts appealing to the children again.
Who remembers MySpace? Friendster? Second Life? I bet the iGeneration doesn’t. Which means younger people move in and old social media platforms move right on out.
When asked why people his age aren’t on Facebook anymore, 20-year-old skateboarder and music producer Sean Clark eloquently stated “because it sucks,” and “bc family is on it LOL we need our privacy.” So moms are out there embarrassing their kids not just in real life, but on the Internet too. Mommmmmmmmmm!
Why is privacy so important to the kids? I have a sinking feeling that it might be something much deeper than just wanting to hide from Mom and Aunt Carol. One of the latest meme trends is about keeping your personal FBI Agent entertained. But all fun, games, and memes aside, maybe the Post-Millennials are paranoid about being watched. We’ve all seen that photo of Zuckerberg’s Macbook with tape over the camera.
Jokes aside, this trend of young people ditching The Facebook is not in direct relation to the security issues Facebook has been facing lately, which we’ll leave for another piece in the future as information develops further.
While the iGeneration peaces out, the over-55 crowd is flocking to the ever more uncool Facebook in droves. Mom and Aunt Carol still need to have a place to share their inspirational quotes, close-ups of their children’s faces, and David Avocado Wolfe clips. And Facebook doesn’t lose entirely in this deal. Let’s not forget that Facebook owns Instagram, so don’t worry, we’re all still making the Zuckerberg rich.
One of the questions I have for the iGeneration is: how do you do your Internet stalking without Facebook? Say you meet a cute guy, and all you have is his first name and a general idea of the country he lives in. Any savvy chick my age would find that man on ALL social media platforms within minutes, but we all start with Facebook… don’t we, ladies?
Native New Yorker Valerie Michalecki is an unashamed social media addict who always keeps her finger firmly on the pulse of what's hot on the internet.
When she's not checking her timelines, she's hard at work creating (hopefully) viral social media/web content, riding unicorns and drinking G&Ts on the beach in her second home on Egypt's South Sinai peninsula.