Sitting alone on the second floor of the Matador Bookstore food court, Angela Medina, a 20-year-old liberal studies major, was trying to focus, but not on her books or school work.
Many around her were trying to juggle some reading and homework while grabbing a quick bite, but not Medina. She was fixated on her new ruby-red Blackberry Tour. She was checking her Facebook for the 100th time, she said.
“I love Facebook,” said Medina, who considers it a great tool to keep in touch with friends. “I wouldn’t give it up.”
Despite Medina’s continued enthusiasm toward the social networking site, a recent study by Internet marketing research company comScore, Inc., states that Facebook is losing ground with its main demographic — young adults.
Facebook’s decision to allow open registration to the general public in September 2006 resulted in the Web site acquiring 26.6 million returning visitors in May 2007. The site was inundated by young teens and adults. It no longer was exclusively a safe haven for college students like it was when first introduced to cyberspace.
Bernardo Attias, chair and professor in CSUN’s department of communication studies, said the novelty is starting to wear off as it did with MySpace.
“It’s no longer cutting edge,” Attias said. “It’s mainstream. I mean, President Obama is known as the ‘Facebook president’ — that’s how mainstream it is.”
Attias said that Facebook revolutionized the way in which young people communicate because it turned them into loners. He said that many Facebook users have many friends, but they really do not communicate with them through other forms. Attias added that Facebook was used like a “brag sheet” to show off a number of “friends.”
Medina joined Facebook during her first year in college and has more than 450 friends, she said. But out of those people, she only speaks to about half via phone, e-mail or in person.
Medina can get instant Facebook updates on her new mobile, making it easier for her to stay updated. Before getting her phone, she would log on to Facebook three or four times a day just to make sure she was not out of the loop.
“Before we wrote letters, and then came the e-mail, which made it faster for us to communicate,” Attias said. “But Facebook and those other social networking sites changed young people’s way of communicating.”
The form of communication used by social networking Web sites tends to cause alienation among its users, according to Attias. People just end up typing away in front of computers without human interaction.
Sorme Shamloo, 18, a business administration major, said she uses her Facebook to keep in touch with friends from high school. Shamloo has been on Facebook since her freshman year in high school and has about 400 friends.
Like Medina, she too checks her Facebook three to four times daily and would not consider giving it up. She said that those quitting Facebook probably, “can’t handle it.”
“It just takes up too much time,” she said.
Attias agrees that Facebook consumes a lot of time. In regards to the networking sites that young adults use, he said that, “it’s a pain to manage online identities.”
“It’s hard to keep track of them all,” Attias said. “Things are changing so fast — it’s overwhelming.”
In addition, Attias said that young adults may be drifting away from Facebook because having personal information online can be compromising. Those graduating and looking for jobs are especially vulnerable since human resource departments are on the lookout for red flags when it comes time to hire new employees.
Penelope Mendizabil, a public relations major with 353 friends on Facebook, said the reason many are leaving Facebook is because they have “aunts and uncles who are 60 and are on Facebook.
“Old people are using it now and it’s upsetting,” said Mendizabil, 21, who went on to say she would not delete her account because it allows her to communicate with family she has in other countries.
As for Medina, she said that people may be deleting their accounts because they probably don’t understand how to use them.
After finally looking up from her Blackberry, Medina said: “More power to them. It’s addicting. I’m addicted.”