I’ve finished an 8-article series on virtual worlds and virtual economies that should start publishing next week. One of the most interesting stats I discovered in the process was a Pew Research Center survey in 2018 finding that among 18-35 year old Facebook users in the US, 47% reported taking a multiple week break from Facebook and 43% reported deleting the Facebook app from their phone for a period of time.
Half of the core social media user demographic have been trying to reduce Facebook’s presence in their lives. It’s a shockingly high stat. Facebook’s US MAUs aren’t collapsing anywhere near that much though, meaning most of these people are still using it.
To me these numbers echo what I’ve anecdotally been seeing in my interactions with others: a cultural shift to viewing our use of popular social apps as junk food for mental health. We’re addicted and take temporary detoxes but haven’t been able to fully disconnect given how central these platforms are in society. It seems to beckon for new types of online social experiences.
It remains to be seen how much Facebook’s shift to make Facebook Groups the center of socializing on Facebook addresses this user frustration.