Time recently named Mark Zuckerberg their “Person of the Year.” The film “The Social Network” has grossed $192 Million worldwide thus far. Everyone you know is on Facebook, including your mother, and HER mother. A visualization of Facebook’s social graph shows you what it looks like to link 500 million people around the world in a single place.
To this, I say, Facebook is dying. Its zenith has been reached in terms of its power and social capital, and it is all downhill from here.
My evidence is based more on allegory, hunches and extrapolation, but if Past is Preface, the evidence mounts.
Traders, particularly those known as Trend Followers, are well aware of a couple of phenomenons around popularity. The first is the Magazine Cover Effect, and the second is the notion about what it means if your bartender starts giving you stock tips. Both are signs that you need to get out of the market, STAT.
“By the time a company’s success or failure reaches the cover page of a major publication, the company is so well known that it is reflected fully in the stock price. Once all the good news is out, the stock is destined to underperform.”
Paul Krugman has also weighed in on this concept, stating:
“Whom the Gods would destroy, they first put on the cover of Business Week.”
Now, go to any tech meetup anywhere, and you will hear people talking excitedly about Social Networking, or sometimes, just “Social.”
But it’s not just the techies who are excited. It’s your Aunt Sharmaine or your long lost lab partner from high school. It’s your parents, your GRANDMA.
Facebook has spread into Companies, who now scramble to ensure they have a “LIKE” button on their site. Your small business buddies send you emails pleading that you LIKE their company page on Facebook. It’s the hottest thing since Grunge. It’s as omni-present as Wonderbread in the 1950’s. And it’s the surest thing since tech stocks in 1999.
There’s a Wall Street sentiment that was attributed to Joseph Kennedy that:
“When even shoeshine boys are giving you stock tips, it’s time to sell”
A more contemporary version of this is you better get out when your bartender starts talking stocks.
Either way, we have long passed the point where everyone, and I mean EVERYONE is on facebook.
Except for that one, key person: your cool younger cousin.
At a family gathering, my incredibly smart, incredibly savvy and super hip young cousin was lamenting facebook and outlining her plans for deleting her account. She had already disabled it, and almost couldn’t be bothered to delete it.
If you google “The Death of Facebook” there is a lone article by Geoff Livingston that stands out, from April 2010. He compares Facebook to McDonalds, and cites pseudo-competitors like Flipboard and ABC News’ iPad app that Facebook will not be able to keep up with. He misses an important, and new one, the open source Diaspora* written in the far more modern Ruby on Rails framework, versus Facebook’s clunky use of PHP.
People seem to forget that Facebook was preceded not only by MySpace, but also by Friendster, which even had Facebook’s blue color scheme. All have faded. There is nothing different about the Facebook story.
It used to be really punk rock to not watch TV. Today, the really punk rock thing is deleting your Facebook account.
So enjoy it while you can, but realize your time is limited. After all, nothing goes against punk, and survives.
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