Culture & Competency

Facebook – For Sharing, or a Digital Popularity Contest?

An interesting reality check on the changing perception of Facebook among teenagers. Some of the choice quotes from the Huffington Post:

For teens, Facebook has become the equivalent of Microsoft Outlook or AOL Instant Messenger, experts say: It has evolved from a hot hangout, to a practical and dull tool for chatting about homework or catching up with faraway friends. Bored, overwhelmed by huge friend groups and exhausted by the digital popularity contests Facebook fosters, many teens are taking refuge in social services such as Tumblr and Twitter.

Teens are less likely than their parents and grandparents to browse Facebook in a given month. Sixty-six percent of 12- to 17-year-olds visited Facebook in May this year, compared to 69 percent of web users between 55- and 64-years-old, and 71 percent of all Americans online, according to comScore, a digital analytics company.

Teens said they regularly use Facebook’s chat functionalities, yet save their best sharing for other sites. Creative status updates and personal musings are sent to Tumblr and Twitter, which allow users a degree of anonymity and the flexibility to connect with people who share their interests, rather than their location or homeroom.

… teens will share whitewashed versions of themselves on Facebook. It’s on Tumblr that the truth comes out …

Michael’s Comments
1. Yesterday I posted about rewarding individuals for their contribution to an organization, and whether that was a good idea. The thought I have on reading the above is how the competitive nature of how teens use Facebook—the “digital popularity contest”—has pushed their “best sharing” to other places where that behavior isn’t as prevalent. Facebook can be used for popularity contests, and that will drive a certain type of behavior. Facebook can be used for sharing, and that will drive a different type of behavior. But it’s hard to merge the two.

2. In a competitive situation, the natural behavior is to put up a pretense to be more attractive to the crowd. Or to be so busy trying to outshine everyone else that you can’t offer the real you. In a collaborative situation, you need the real person to show up.

3. What I said above about Facebook – it applies to how IBM Connections, SharePoint with NewsGator, and/or Jive are used in organizational life.

Categories: Culture & Competency