Six Stages of Facebook Engagement

I feel so… fickle, thanks to Facebook. How could things change so quickly? Here, I’ll present my personal journey of engaging with the social network. In the comments, feel free to share how this compares with your own experience, whether with Facebook or with other sites or technologies.

1) Ambivalence

I remember way back when, as I first started tinkering with Facebook as soon as they opened it up to anyone with a college account – even alumni. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, other than befriending younger cousins and a couple people from high school I haven’t spoken to since that time and probably won’t speak to again in person.

2) Intrigue

In time, though, I became enamored with Facebook. Part of it was the new social framework it was creating as you followed everyone else’s business. As some more friends joined, I could go on there and check out what else they were doing. There were all the communication channels – walls, emails, pokes (I still don’t get poking). There was market research potential, discovering the groups fans created about various brands and entertainment properties.

3) Rapture

The Rapture began in late May when they launched Applications, and soon hundreds of people I knew from my work life were on there, with new friend requests coming daily, new applications to explore, new groups to join – much of this thanks to notifications that appeared in the news feed. I HAD to check Facebook each day, and then I had to check it multiple times each day. I spent time with applications, developing my reading lists and movie recommendations. I raised a virtual warrior bunny, Gandalf, until level 19. I joined some groups and participated in them, learning so much from other members that I wasn’t getting in my daily news reading. This phase lasted a couple months.

4) Contentedness

Then I discovered Scrabulous. I had a new favorite application, a reason to go to the site, and I didn’t care so much about what everyone else was doing. The application itself became my time-filler. Meanwhile, I’d receive some emails there instead of at one of my main addresses, and I’d respond – it was easy enough – but it became a little more of a hassle. I’d join some groups and add some more friends, though not at the rate I had before.

5) Overstimulation

Scrabulous aside, Facebook started to become more of a nuisance. Every website I visited created a group, and I felt obliged to join them even knowing I’d never participate, and I feared being antisocial if I declined the group invite. The invited for applications and events also grew overwhelming, as did the friend requests from people I didn’t know. And there were now so many people in my network on Facebook that I’d only see something in my feed if 10 people did the same thing; the one-off surprises from my friends on the cutting edge became less visible.

And here I am today, still amazed by Facebook and appreciating the social phenomenon it has become, but on the borderline of 6) Fatigue. I’m bullish about the site’s prospects while bearish about my own future participation in it. And the speed of it startles me, as one who tries to keep on top of what’s next. I keep wondering how many are like me, and if any of these sites will still matter a few years from now.

Perhaps I’m just a little worn out. Perhaps a few nights spent relaxing instead of working past midnight will prove refreshing. Perhaps 6) isn’t Fatigue but Redemption, or Resurrection, and I’ll have the chance to savor Facebook’s revelations anew.

5 thoughts on “Six Stages of Facebook Engagement

  1. Hi David, I completely agree with you. And in terms of step #6, fatigue can alternate with resurrection/rediscovery. I am still amazed at how Facebook went from a closed, university-students-only site, to an open, adult/professional networking site. Kudos to Facebook. Most likely that comes from equal parts clean design (opposite MySpace’s often ugly page customized pages) and incorporation of the Apps, which are in danger of overwhelming the professional crowd (the younger user set seems to have enough time to digest more of them). See you in NYC next weekend…

  2. As a Facebook newbie completely engulfed in phase #3 – I am not sure if I should thank you or scold you for mapping out my future engagement with Facebook. However I am sure that your introduction to Scrabulous will cause me as much pain as my recently conquered addiction to desktop tower defense. Thanks allot. Actually, as always, I really do appreciate your insight’s, thank you for sharing them. By sharing your thought’s you have helped me professionally many times.

  3. David:
    As a recent college graduate (2006), I joined Facebook about 3 yrs ago, when it was still open only to college students.
    I definitely experienced stages 1-3 in the same order, but 5, 6, and 4 would have to be switched in my opinion.
    I branched out to MySpace, LinkedIn, etc. after Facebook because of overstimulation and fatigue. However, I now probably check my Facebook more than any other similar site. The applications keep you coming back, and there is no need to continuously search out new friends or poke people.
    P.S. outside of the ability to view someone’s profile over a 24-hour period after you poke them, I don’t think there’s any purpose to poking.
    My guess is you can’t view someone’s profile anymore if you poke them, for security and privacy reasons.

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