Many Facebook Users Take Breaks from Social Media

Facebook appHumans are social animals. Being around others, organizing into groups, and helping others are all natural inclinations of our species. If humans didn’t enjoy social activity, they wouldn’t have much of a civilization to enjoy. Social networks are a modern twist on our desire to interact with others. They are incredibly popular; Facebook alone has over one billion users! A recent survey shows that we might not be as enthusiastic about Facebook. Is there a limit to how “social” we can be?

Survey Says

According to Jenna Wortham today on the New York Times, “a new survey by the Pew Research Center…found that 61 percent of current Facebook users admitted that they had voluntarily taken breaks from the site.” Some of these breaks were for an extended period of time. For all of the hype and press that social media gets all over the web, it looks like people can actually burn out or need to take breaks from the great social networks we use.

If you think about it, that concept isn’t too surprising. Lots of people need time to themselves every now and then. Jenna writes that “not having enough time to dedicate” to maintaining a Facebook profile, “an overall decrease in their interest” in Facebook, and the feeling that “Facebook was a major waste of time” were the primary reasons respondents had for taking breaks.

Privacy? Who Cares?

One surprise in the recent Pew Research Center survey is that privacy was not a strongly stated concern for those taking breaks from Facebook. Despite the seriousness of the issue, an AP story on The Washington Post reports that, “only 4 percent of people gave [privacy and security concerns]” as the main factor in deciding to take a break from Facebook.

That’s probably good for Facebook, as Matt Miller reported on Forbes from earlier in the week that “Facebook may soon be tracking you at all times.” Their possible plan is to have a smartphone app that will be able to run in the background constantly updating Facebook as to your location. This could provide chances for targeted ads based on location and a way to find friends, or for them to find you. If this comes to pass, it will be a great opportunity for agencies and businesses. Then again, it could cause privacy to rise as a concern for users of Facebook.

An Adjustment for All

Not only has the explosive growth and use of social media required businesses to adjust, but it also   looks like people are having the same problem. Some have been able to handle their social media obligations and desires and work them easily into their daily schedule. Others find themselves wasting too much time on the networks, Facebook especially.

Businesses and agencies are in the same boat. Some are using social media extremely well. I recently wrote a post about how one video game company has been rocking social media for months now. We recently saw examples of great social media use during the Super Bowl blackout as well.

On the other hand, some companies have been handling social media with quite a few bumps along the road. Applebee’s is recovering from recent social media and internet backlash over a server they fired for posting a receipt. As Herb Weisbaum writes for NBC News, poor social media strategy can become a “runaway train” quickly and “if you don’t know how to react, you could get crushed.” Applebee’s will recover from the setback, but it has been quite a learning experience for them.

Continuing to Grow

That Facebook users take breaks from social media is no need for concern about the effectiveness of using it and other networks for advertising and branding. Social media is still one of the most economical and efficient ways of reaching and interacting with millions of customers. Though, it’s comforting to know that people and businesses are adjusting to the rapid growth of social media.

Do you take breaks from social media?


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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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