Social networks change, avoid obsoletion

Now more than ever, social networking is a huge part of our lives. Along with the obvious shower, teeth brushing, eating breakfast and everything else a person usually does when they wake up, these websites-Facebook, Twitter, etc.-are also one of the first things we check in the morning. Throughout the day, we post status updates, tweets, follow or add people…we are more often than not on one of these sites. The World Wide Web is constantly changing to suit our growing expectations, and it’s especially apparent in social networking.

This is why Facebook is constantly updating with new features. Like any good website, it needs to adapt to the growing competition. The website recently introduced several new updates-we can now view what our friends are doing in real time with the new side bar; list options have been dramatically modified; the top of the homepage even looks questionably similar to Twitter. I’ve noticed plenty of negative comments in regards to the changes. Sure, I do believe some of it is annoying, but in the grand scheme of things we have to remember something: we are all still going to use Facebook no matter how many times it changes, and more to the point, because it changes.

What I mean by that is that we can complain about Facebook, or any other site, all we want for the updates it makes, but the fact of the matter is that if these sites didn’t make those changes, we would all ready be moving on to something else. The Internet, whether we think about it or not, is a competitive place. AOL or Yahoo!? IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes? These are just a couple of examples detailing the competitive nature of the Internet. We are given choices between emails and film databases, among dozens upon dozens of other things. Social networking is at the top of this list.

Take MySpace for instance. It used to be what Facebook is today, a social networking juggernaut, but somewhere along the way it lost credibility and in the process lost users. What was most likely MySpace’s downfall is that it didn’t incorporate the necessary changes until it was too late. Facebook came onto the scene and social networking hasn’t quite been the same since. You may have noticed how MySpace updated when it realized Facebook was giving it a run for its money (or in this case, online users). It started adopting some of the same features Facebook has, such as the chat box. Why? Facebook was winning, plain and simple, and the MySpace people knew that. Now social networking is in the iron grip of sites like Facebook and Twitter.

But that’s not to say MySpace didn’t benefit from this competition, and that’s why the competition is a good thing. It forces sites to realize if they don’t change things, then people will get bored. When Facebook took the lead in the social networking race, I deleted my MySpace, as I’m sure the majority of people did. But I recently revisited the site and was drawn in yet again. It has become more of a social entertainment site than a social networking site. It’s adopted some features we see in Facebook and Twitter, but has also kept the things that drew us to the site in the first place. Only now, these features are far more accessible and easier to use. I actually enjoyed building my profile’s music playlist and designing my background. I remember in the old days of MySpace when entire sites were dedicated to MySpace profile layouts. We had to copy and paste the code of the layout into the About Me section of our profile, which doesn’t sound that bad, but it could be a hassle. And if you wanted to create your own layout on one of these sites? Well, let’s just say I spent a lot of time making my profile as close to perfect as I could get it. Now, though, all I had to do was select an image from my photos and MySpace basically took it from there.

I know MySpace may seem old-school, but the point here is that they’ve updated the site in a positive way. The only problem is that it’s been left behind. But there’s always the possibility that MySpace could make a comeback. It’s unique, sleek and far more accessible than I remember it. It responded to the competition. While it may have done this a little too late, as I’ve stated numerous times: the Internet is a competition. If more people respond to MySpace’s changes the same way that I did, maybe we’ll see yet another “mass movement” between social websites. This is why Facebook has to keep updating, or else it will be left in the dust just as its predecessors were.

Twitter realized this right out of the gate. Twitter’s originality comes in the fact that it’s more about keeping up to date with what our favorite people are doing than it is about communicating. “Following” is Twitter’s version of “adding” or “liking.” And unlike Facebook, people won’t get angry if you constantly post to Twitter. That’s what it’s for: constant updates. Therefore, Twitter all ready had something going for it, which is why it made its presence known so quickly and positively. We can like our favorite famous people on Facebook, but over at Twitter they’re updating us every step of the way.

That doesn’t mean Twitter won’t have to keep changing, though. Competition is everywhere. We can follow people on MySpace now. If that site continues to grow, who’s to say people won’t ditch Twitter? It feels as if there’s a constant back-and-forth going on between these big websites today. If one updates, another updates. Even The Oswegonian website was updated. Whether it’s to make it easier to use, to add new and interesting features, or to simply look cooler or more polished, sites all over the web are always changing and they will continue to do so. We as Internet users have to take these changes as they come. If we don’t like them, then that just fuels the competition even more, and in turn, we will hopefully get better updates. And if we still don’t like what we’re getting, I’m sure a new movie database, social networking site, email, search engine and anything else will come along and make everything better.

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