What’s On

#sowhoknew: Are you suffering from Facebook Fatigue ?

Irritated by your in-laws posting every inanity of their day? Want to avoid family who add no enrichment to your life? Pictures of your friends food making you sick? Don’t worry. These are first symptoms of Facebook Fatigue. The solution? People are increasingly taking extended sabbaticals from the platform according to recent research studies…

Whether it’s down to annoyance, tedium or overindulgence, it’s clear that there is a growing trend of people who are opting out of social networks on a temporary basis in an attempt to detox from the seemingly endless tsunami of negativity and/ or mediocrity. A study at Princeton University of over 1000 respondents discovered that 61 per cent of Facebook users had taken at least a week long break from the site at some stage. And their reasoning was fairly consistent: 21 per cent were just too busy, 10 per cent had lost interest and a further 10 per cent believed it had simply become a waste of time.

When the researchers drilled down for some narrative from the respondents, the comments came back thick and fast:
“Too much drama”
“[I had] crazy friends. I did not want to be contacted”
“People were [posting] what they had for dinner”
Any of this sound a little too familiar to you? Then you are probably suffering from Facebook Fatigue.

The same piece of research also suggested that because of the same reasons listed above, people were also spending considerably less time on Facebook. 41 per cent of Facebook users aged 18 to 29, and 34 per cent of those aged 30 to 49 indicated that the amount of time they spent on Facebook had definitely decreased over the last year.

So what are users finding so infuriating? Well, according to Stylecaster the list includes overuse of selfies (all replete with obligatory trout pout), too much information about relationships (we really don’t need to know the sordid details of your latest liaison), irksome event invites (I don’t wish to attend your holiday snaps viewing party thanks), venting your spleen about politics (there has been more bile and vitriol about Brexit in the past few days that I can stomach) and (the most heinous of Facebook crimes) the cryptic status update (OMG you won’t believe what just happened to me?!).

But Facebook are clearly not going to let their audience desert them that easily and are constantly evolving the platform with increasingly elaborate innovations to ensure their users are kept engaged, whether that be focus on video / mobile, plug-ins to Instagram, Facebook Live or the longer term potential of streaming your favourite movies (take a look at my previous post Social goes Hollywood – FaceFlix anyone?).

According to PC Mag we consumers can, at least, take matters into our own hands to prevent the FB fatigue kicking in. They offer two ‘easy-to-implement’ tips to cut down on the monotony:
Unfollow – you have probably determined where the majority of your vexations are derived but you don’t want to go as far as ‘unfriending’ them (which in itself can add a whole new level of angst). Next best thing? Unfollow them. You don’t get to see their inane ramblings any longer and they have no idea you’ve done it (unless they realise that you don’t ‘like’ or comment on anything that they post any more)
Custom Friends – one of the most underused and undervalued features on Facebook. It lets you choose who sees (or doesn’t see) your status updates. They take just a few minutes to create but can make the whole FB experience much more enjoyable, because your updates will only be visible to a select group of friends instead of your entire entourage

So here’s the thing, I totally get the whole Facebook Fatigue concept and I freely admit that I have dialled down my Facebook time in recent years. Why? It’s down to all the tiresome trolling, testiness and tiramisu (pictures of, that is). My focus has turned to the likes of LinkedIn and BeBee which I personally find far more rewarding plus I believe they add considerably more collateral into my mental bank account.

Now that doesn’t mean to say that I’ve switched off Facebook completely but I have consciously had protracted periods of abstinence. And I honestly haven’t missed it that much although when I have returned, I did at least feel somewhat reinvigorated – that is until some one posts a thoroughly tangential update on what time they are going to bed. And then the meandering process back towards abstention starts again…

What about you? Have you experienced Facebook Fatigue and if so, why?

Steve Blakeman

Steve Blakeman is the Global Media Lead - Nestlé at Mindshare. Previously, he was the Managing Director - Global Accounts, OMD Europe. Previously, he was the CEO, Asia Pacific – OMD. Prior to that, he was Global Chief Integration Strategy Officer (Asia Pacific) for IPG Mediabrands (Initiative & Universal McCann). He has also had stints as worked as Managing Partner at Omnicom Media Group owned media agency, PHD where he successfully launched their second office in the UK. He began his career at JWT and has over two decades of experience in advertising, media and marketing communications.