I remember back in 2007 when I gave in to peer pressure and created my Facebook account. I had a year left of college and as my group of friends started to graduate and move on, it quickly became a great way to stay in touch and be connected with both friends and family.
In the beginning I might get on Facebook once every few days at the most. Fast forward to today and the thought of not being on Facebook a few times a week is unimaginable. I’m on it several times a day, including first thing when I wake up and it’s the last thing I check before going to bed. Do I consider myself addicted? Absolutely not. Am I so obsessed with what my friends and family are doing that I can’t step away from living vicariously via their digital lives? Maybe (just kidding).
While there are other social media networks that I’m a part of, Facebook has moved beyond the social for me. Facebook has become an all-in-one stop shop. I can connect with people who have common interests, sign a petition, view recipes, watch videos, shop, and follow any and all news – including local news. I live in a small town and have come to rely on the “What’s Happening” pages of the community since we have no official TV station and the local newspaper runs almost two days behind.
And I’m not alone in realizing that social media is moving beyond the social. According to a recent article in Business Insider:
Social platforms have become the new leaders in the digital media industry, evolving well past their beginnings as digital communication networks and becoming full-fledged media distribution channels and entertainment centers…Nearly 20% of total time spent online in the U.S. across both desktop and mobile devices is on social platforms. Facebook alone, makes up 14% of total time spent online.
We can actually put a meaningful number to that 14% statistic. According to Facebook’s first quarter results for 2016 states that users spend 50 minutes a day on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger (all of which are owned by Facebook). An article in The New York Times goes even further to put this into perspective:
There are only 24 hours in a day, and the average person sleeps for 8.8 of them. That means more than one-sixteenth of the average user’s waking time is spent on Facebook.
The averages time that users spend on Facebook is nearing an hour. That’s more than any other leisure activity surveyed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the exception of watching television programs and movies (an average per day of 2.8 hours). It’s more time than people spend reading (19 minutes); participating in sports or exercise (17 minutes); or social events (four minutes). It’s almost as much time as people spend eating and drinking (1.07 hours).
So, next time you get on Facebook, pay attention to how you use the platform. Are you keeping it purely social or just barely social? Should it still be considered a leisure activity if we are using it for data needed to navigate not just our daily lives, but our communities as well?