Is social all about cool? (Or why teens switch from MySpace)

A recent Washington Post story titled In Teens’ Web World, MySpace Is So Last Year would have us believe that MySpace is a passing fad because of the group mentality of chasing cool. The story itself, however, then proves otherwise. There are concrete reasons why teens change their mind, and it’s not always about being […]

A recent Washington Post story titled In Teens’ Web World, MySpace Is So Last Year would have us believe that MySpace is a passing fad because of the group mentality of chasing cool. The story itself, however, then proves otherwise. There are concrete reasons why teens change their mind, and it’s not always about being cool.

Yuki Noguchi, explaining a recent downward trend in how much time teens spend on MySpace and other social networking sites, suggests that they leave because they’re just fickle:

Such is the social life of teens on the Internet: Powerful but fickle. Within several months’ time, a site can garner tens of millions of users who, just as quickly, might flock to the next place, making it hard for corporate America to make lasting investments in whatever’s hot now.”

Some people are fickle. Some people make decisions on a whim. Teenagers, who nobody can understand fully, seem to fit into this category. Some teens, when presented with a choice for which there is no good reason to make, make it anyway. Just for the hell of it.

But most people, teenagers included, don’t act this way. Instead of acting willy-nilly, they often have very good reasons for doing what they do, even if others don’t understand it. All people make perfect sense to themselves, and most, if given the opportunity to explain their reasoning, actually make sense to others as well.

But Noguchi, citing fickleness, thinks that teens just want what’s new.

“Young audiences search for innovative and new features. They’re constantly looking for new ways to communicate and share content they find or create, and because of that group mentality, friends shift from service to service in blocs.”

But notice the reasons why kids switched that Noguchi points to.

Security Reasons

“Over the summer, Birnbaum’s friend Chrissy Quantrille discovered an impostor had taken her photos off her MySpace profile, set up a fake page and even used it to establish a romantic virtual relationship with a boy in California.

“It was creepy,” said Quantrille, who tried to contact the offender — “What are you doing?” — and sent a message to the duped boyfriend. She and her friends filed a form asking MySpace to take down the fake page, which it did within two days.”

Snooping by Parents and Schoolfolks

“Dell’Aria said teachers at her previous high school started logging onto MySpace and reading students’ profiles, apparently monitoring the pages for signs of alcohol or drug abuse.

“I was shocked and kind of annoyed, and it was kind of an invasion of privacy,” she said. Although no one got in trouble, word spread like wildfire, and many of her classmates reset their privacy settings to block unapproved users from accessing their pages, she said.”

Social Pressure

“Liana Castro, a junior in the literary media department of Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, said having an online social life intesified the drama in her real life.

She routinely heard from people who complained they weren’t designated as one of her top eight friends. “People would be like, ‘why am I not in your top eight?’ ” With 279 online friends, Castro caught so much grief she changed the site so it only listed four family members.”

That’s Where Their Friend’s Are

“Madeline Dell’Aria, another high school junior, has fallen in and out of love with a number of sites. In middle school she started avidly blogging on Xanga. Last year, after most of her friends abandoned Xanga and migrated to MySpace, she followed. “No one was using Xanga anymore,” she said.”

Real Reasons to Switch

It is clear from these examples that there are very real reasons why people are switching from MySpace. Reasons that are concrete, reasonable, and in some cases preventable. Fickleness is just part of the story.

Published: October 31st, 2006

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