Feature Story Project Summary (Blog 5)

My feature story focused on the topic of Facebook potentially becoming obsolete. I chose to specifically interview millennials because Facebook was likely the first major social media platform they created an account for. As I learned in my interviews, this was the case; they were a bit too young for MySpace when it was the go-to platform on the internet, and they’re too old to be a part of the younger generation today, where more and more people are choosing to prioritize accounts on other platforms instead.

All my interviewees stated that the amount of time they spend on Facebook today is far less than the time they used to spend on it years ago. My interviewees listed factors contributing to their decreased use of the social media website, including lack of time, outdated or irrelevant social circle or media on their feed, and lack of simplicity or accessibility. Despite all this, many of my interviewees said that there are still features of Facebook that benefit or appeal to them. Some of these included Facebook’s ease of group-forming and group communication, the linking of other social medias to your Facebook to create a ‘home base’ of sorts, and the variety of media that you can post/share.

In my pre-interview research, I read numerous articles discussing or analyzing why Generation Z, the generation following Millennials, are ‘ditching’ Facebook. Primarily, the articles were all on-par with the main reason; that there simply are just other apps and platforms available today that are far interesting or beneficial to the younger generation.

Two other reasons I also saw often in some of these articles that didn’t resonate as much with my interviewees, were the prevalence of ‘fake news’ and influx of older people (laggards) on Facebook. The answers of my interviewees gave when asked if these factors contributed to their decreasing use of Facebook were mixed. For the most part, they don’t think either factor played a large role in their usage or opinion of Facebook. I was surprised to hear that several of my respondents were entertained or used to older folks’ learning to use Facebook and how they interact with younger people. I was also surprised to hear that ‘fake news’ didn’t play as big of a role in my respondents’ decreased time spent on Facebook as I thought it would.

Some of the main takeaways from this project that could suggest newer social media communication behavior among millennials include the fact that they are able to identify ‘fake news’ and politically biased or incorrect information on Facebook, but don’t let it affect their views or their decision to use this particular platform. Another takeaway from this project could be that millennials prefer platforms that offer simpler forms of media, like pictures and short videos on Instagram, small blips of information on Twitter, or sharing selfies with one another via Snapchat. Even with the competition these other social media networks pose to Facebook, however, each of my respondents still had their reasons for staying or had preference for Facebook when it came to specific aspects the platform offers, which, for now, will keep them coming back to the place their social media experience began.

Week of March 12 (Blog 6, 7, 8)

This week, our class began conducting audio and video interviews regarding our chosen topic for our feature story. The topic I chose to interview individual about was the declining popularity of Facebook among millennials. I chose this topic because I notice that I spend increasingly less time on Facebook today, than I used to several years ago when I first made my account. This made me curious as to if and why other young adults are starting to use Facebook less and less.

Common themes I saw in many of the articles questioning the declining popularity of Facebook among younger generations included potential factors like political bias and ‘fake news’, especially during the 2016 Presidential Election, and the emergence of newer technologies and platforms that younger generations simply prefer over Facebook. I made sure to take these factors into account when I created my interview questions.

By Sunday evening, I had only managed to complete my two audio interviews but made plans for my remaining three video interviews to be conducted within the next two days. One thing from my audio interviews that I will certainly take into account for my video interviews is that for a two-minute interview, I had way too many questions that each required a somewhat lengthy answer. My first audio interview lasted around 10 minutes, and my second interview lasted 34 (whoops). This unfortunately will require a decent amount of editing on my part, but now that I know that I only need maybe a quarter of my total questions to get the answers I’m looking for, I will definitely rework and fine-tune my questions before I conduct my video interviews.

As for pictures, I’ve managed to acquire a few, though I want to wait and hear more responses from my interviewees before I find related images to their opinions. I’m mostly using personal examples from my own social media platforms of older individuals’ behavior, the ease of connection and communication with other people, and the user-friendliness of different app interfaces.

One response I’ve received in my interviews so far that’s surprised me is that both people I interviewed didn’t seem to be too bothered by the saturation of older laggards making Facebook accounts and learning how to use the platform. They also didn’t believe that the ‘ fake news’ and political climate of Facebook during the past Presidential election significantly affected their opinion or amount of time spent using Facebook.