From Friendster to Google+, a social media evolution

On this blog we discuss our relationship with social media, trends we’re seeing online and personal musings on how it affects our lives. We’ve considered “Breaking up with Facebook” and we’ve chronicled how pointless Google+ seems to be at this point. We’ve detailed the merits and pitfalls of Twitter.

But during a recent discussion I realized we had not explored the evolution of social media as it applies to our experiences.

The Evolution of Social Media / via Mashable

My first foray into social media was at a friend’s request that I join Friendster. Remember that skeleton? This particular friend was a techie–the IT guy of our newspaper. I trusted his media habits, so got on Friendster and immediately sent invitations to all my friends. Few of them joined, and I was miffed. I continued to encourage people to join, thinking this would be a cool way to stay in touch with my far-flung friends and acquaintances.

In the end, only a handful of my friends connected with me on the site, and I quickly lost interest. Yet, in the middle of my friend-prodding, one friend living in Los Angeles asked me to join MySpace. Obviously, I don’t drag my feet when it comes to linking up with old friends, so I obliged. I didn’t do much with my profile and after feeling like the Friendster scenario was losing steam I pushed these networks aside and instead got tied up with instant messaging.

Then, in 2007  when I started graduate school, I was introduced to Facebook. Surrounded by people in their early 20s (I was in my early 30s) at a university that had been one of the first to have Facebook access, I was impressed by this site and the attentiveness shown to it by my new peers. What is this “Wall?” I wondered. What is with all these photos? And how can someone really have 700 friends? True story.

Still soured by my Friendster experience, I ignored invitations to join Facebook from dozens of friends. But, in the spring of 2009 I caved. My sister in law in Hawaii said it would be a good way to keep in touch. I joined Facebook and much to my surprise, could not pry myself away.

Even now, two-and-a-half years later, I check my Facebook account every morning sometime before or after I check my two email accounts and Twitter stream. I don’t spend quite as much time lingering on the site as I once did, but it’s a regular part of my day. I turn to Facebook for updates on 400+ of my friends from junior high to grad school and beyond. It’s an interesting–albeit not complete–way to stay in touch. I once thought it would completely negate the need for my 20-year high school reunion. We shall see.

Now there is Google+. I was not one of the lucky few who were given early access to the new site, so I had to wait with the rest of the masses. When I did join, I found that few of my friends were there. It’s been about three weeks now and I have about 20 friends in my circles. Ninety percent of them are also on Facebook.

Needless to say, I don’t check my Google+ account very often. Maybe once every two days. There was so much hype about it when it launched that I believed it would outdo Facebook. I was curious to see how it could one-up Mark Zuckerberg’s behemoth. Yet, it seems as if Facebook continues to one-up Google+.

Perhaps Google+ is just an expression of Google wanting to cover all its bases–that is have its hand in every online pot–as it turns to the cloud. It is an information collector and agregator. That is not to say that Facebook is not an information collector–that is precisely its aim. But Facebook is capable of keeping the masses engaged. Facebook is where we turn when we want to see what’s going on. Facebook is the news in our lives. Facebook still reigns king of the social media world.

But like all kings, their reign eventually ends. For Friendster, the site was bought out in 2009 and now is an online gaming site. It purged all its photos and information it collected from its users and gave up on the social media game.

MySpace has similarly felt a collective brush-off since the rise of Facebook, and it seems to have reinvented itself as an entertainment-sharing site where people can listen to music all they want. It was sold this summer. My last adventure in the MySpace world reminded me why I don’t check my account–it had been about two years. It’s dead space.

So the question remains, can Facebook survive the ephemeral world of being at top of the social media food chain?

Judging by Facebook’s response to Google+ with its launch of a major redesign and the timeline feature, it seems as if Facebook is not going to take any challenge lightly. If it can continue to be innovative and give people what they want before they know they want it, it seems Facebook can evolve with the times and hold its reign.

Excuse me now, I need to check my Facebook page. I believe it’s my move on Lexulous.


6 thoughts on “From Friendster to Google+, a social media evolution

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