Is Facebook Still Cool?

For years now, writers have been told that to promote their books, they need to sign up for Facebook, mostly because when Facebook was new, very few authors used social networking sites to engage with readers so those who did found a goldmine. Ever since then, authors by the hundreds of thousands have joined Facebook to find readers and found only other writers. Why? Unless you are a known writer, readers aren’t searching you out. Writers try to connect with everyone FB suggests or anyone they come in contact with, but readers don’t. They have no reason to connect because they have nothing to gain by it.

Because of the peculiarities of Facebook, I am connected to very few people outside the writer’s community (and those few non-writer connections are mostly family or real life friends). It’s hard to believe that with over 900 million users, I can’t break out of this tight enclave into the mainstream of Facebook, but I have nothing to say to anyone besides what every other author says, “Buy my books,” and even I know that doesn’t sell books. Mostly what I do is use Facebook as a bulletin board to post links to my blog posts. I also scan my feed to see if anything interesting is going on, (so-and-so’s book is being given away free on Amazon, such-and-such a book is on sale for 99¢ . . . yawn) and finally check in with my writing discussion group.

Shouldn’t there be more to such a vast network than a writer’s group? But then, I have made a lot of online friends through Facebook, I keep up with many of my fellow Second Wind authors on Facebook, and I try to get to know the people I am connected with. Considering that joining Facebook used to be a coming-of-age ritual for thirteen-year-olds, it’s amazing I’ve found anything to do on the site! I mean really, what could I possibly have in common with such new and untried persons?

Along with all the other problems Facebook is having (such as not finding enough ways to gouge money out of us via ads), they now have to contend with the loss of their youngest members. Among some young teens, it’s no longer considered cool to join facebook — they prefer to text or to join sites where they are not pressured to connect to everyone in their class. No wonder there are so many offline traumas instigated by online life. The unpopular kids can never get away from their unpopularity. And anyway, why would they join a network that is aging? Facebook is eight years old, which in online years has to be closing in on 57. (Assuming web years are equivalent to dog years.) Even worse, from the point of view of a young teen, is that more than one-fourth of FB users are 50 to 64 years old.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this post. It started out as a light-hearted commentary about the whole Facebook phenomena, and I planned to end up with saying that there are worst things that joining Facebook to connect with readers and finding only writers of a certain age, but I’ve since discovered a fb author friend plagiarized something I posted on Facebook, which is so not cool. So now I have no end to this post. Except maybe to say that I need to stop spending so much time online.