Tavi Gevinson is this generation’s Alpha Teen.
At age 17, she’s the editor-in-chief of Rookie Magazine, an online publication aimed at teenage girls that focuses on pop culture, fashion, feminism and everything in between. Last year, Michael Schulman wrote a 2,400-word feature on Gevinson and her throngs of followers for the New York Times. She is far from the first teenager to command the spotlight at such a young age, but unlike most of her prodigious peers, she has done so without recording an album, starring in a movie or excelling at a sport.
So, when someone like Gevinson tweets to her 166,000+ followers she’s over Facebook, it should signal a DEFCON 1-level of concern in Silicon Valley.
I figured out how to delete yr Facebook since "deactivate" really just means sign out: DELETE ALL FRIENDS. No going back.
You’re probably thinking, Why do you, a 28-year-old dude, follow Tavi Gevinson on Twitter? (At least I hope that is what you are thinking.) I can explain. On Twitter, I follow exactly 450 accounts. Some belong to friends and colleagues, but most belong to people, brands and outlets I find interesting, including Gevinson.
Twitter is where I get my news, where I find inspiration, where I connect with total strangers.
Facebook is just sort of where I corral the people I know or have met a time or two. On Facebook, I maybe interact with a handful of people on a regular basis.
But on Twitter? That’s where I share links to articles that have blown my head clean off my shoulders. That’s where I tune in for real-time news reporting. That’s where I connect and make lunch plans with people whose work and ideas inspire me. That’s where I share photos and video of what I’m up to, if only to share an update in a way that’s more descriptive than my best 140 characters.
Gevinson isn’t the only teen who has lost interest in Facebook. In May, results from a Pew Research Center study of 802 teenagers found many were tired of the Facebook experience, but were hesitant to leave altogether in fear they may miss something:
“In focus groups, many teens expressed waning enthusiasm for Facebook. They dislike the increasing number of adults on the site, get annoyed when their Facebook friends share inane details, and are drained by the “drama” that they described as happening frequently on the site. The stress of needing to manage their reputation on Facebook also contributes to the lack of enthusiasm. Nevertheless, the site is still where a large amount of socializing takes place, and teens feel they need to stay on Facebook in order to not miss out.”
The study also found more teenagers are flocking to Twitter:
“Twitter draws a far smaller crowd than Facebook for teens, but its use is rising. One in four online teens uses Twitter in some way. While overall use of social networking sites among teens has hovered around 80%, Twitter grew in popularity; 24% of online teens use Twitter, up from 16% in 2011 and 8% the first time we asked this question in late 2009.”
I can’t get inside the minds of a demographic that has made Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus its idols, but I do get the sense teenagers also prefer Twitter over Facebook for its minimalist layout and superior user experience in the mobile app realm. And while Facebook’s batty algorithms limit the number of posts users actually see from their friends and the brands they follow, every user’s Twitter feed features everything posted by everyone the user follows all of the time.
Think of it this way: What if Facebook was a daily newspaper? (Not a stretch considering it used to be these place where we’d get the latest updates from friends, family and colleagues.) If Facebook was a newspaper, would it only arrive on your front porch sporadically? Would it only include a small percentage of the stories written by its editorial staff? Would sections like sports or business be left out of certain editions with no pattern or regularity? This is what Facebook is like as a social network right now — and it sucks.
If Tavi Gevinson and a growing number of teens are losing interest in Facebook, one can only assume its end is near.