Take a second and think back to the first social networking site you ever used. Was it MySpace, Friendster, Xanga? Depending on age, the answers will vary, but unless you’re under the age of twenty, and you’ve only ever had a Facebook, it is very unlikely that the first social networking site you used is as popular as it used to be.
Social networking sites (SNS) come in and out of fashion much like clothing trends. And also like clothing trends, most of the old favorite SNSs never truly die, but rather hang about the fringe of the Internet, waiting for the moment that they become “in” again. But if you search hard enough, you may happen upon a graveyard that houses the tombs of the few SNSs and apps that have succumbed. And like a mourner, bemoaning the unexpected death of a close friend, you can’t help but ask: “why?”
As you journey through the silent hills that make up the Social Network Graveyard, laying flowers on the plots marking the dearly departed websites and apps, there are many you won’t remember. The death is likely because they served too niche a purpose to make it on the general public’s radar. Then there are those you have heard of, who graves are lined with flowers from users indulging in a bit of nostalgia. There is Friendster (which technically still exists, but not in its original form) and Yahoo360. There is Meerkat, who burned brightly for a short, sad time. And then, there is the latest casualty, Vine, whose grave is marked by a mound of freshly turned earth. Then there are those is the nursing home next door: Google+, Myspace, Xanga, Digg, and others. They are living day by day, hoping for a miracle cure and fighting off imminent death.
Every single one of them had their legion of loyal fans who proclaimed their accolades and defended their honor. They were the subjects of debates and tech articles proclaiming their genius. And then one day, something new came along (most autopsies can point to Facebook as the cause of death) and the sense of loyalty their believed their fans possessed was quickly forgotten, replaced by mesmerized dreams of new technology and better features.
It’s a sad cycle, it must be said. That something that was once so loved can be so easily disregarded because something shinier has entered the picture. But it is a cycle that will continue to be repeated. It can be argued that one day, maybe sooner than we think, the only thoughts we will spare Facebook and Twitter are those that come in a moment of nostalgia. Forever to be preceded by a “remember when.”