The last thing that I’ve been examining is the time commitment that Facebook takes, and even Twitter. Who really has the time for social media between life activities? Think about it, we have school, work, kids, and just general life coordination to do. I started to wonder who uses Facebook and how we use it. Checking out the Facebook Stats website I learned that: 50% of users sign in daily, on average Facebook users have 130 ‘friends’, 2 billion posts are ‘liked’ or commented on daily, 250 million photos are added daily, and 350 million users use some kind of Facebook mobile application. Oddly enough those who use mobile applications log on more then users logging on from computers. According to this interesting study, 62% of Facebook users login more then once per day.
I also examined numbers of users around the world, just out of curiosity. Turns out that when Facebook launched in 2004 it gained 1 million users by December. Come December, one year later, Facebook grew to 5.5 million users. And now, in September of 2011, Facebook has over 800 million users worldwide, of which approximately 400 million sign in on a daily basis. This will come as to no surprise, but demographically the top age range of users is 18-24, followed closely by the 25-34 age range.
As I explored the Facebook statistics I started to notice differences in who uses Facebook. I decided to just look at Facebook usage in the United States, as stats were easiest to find. There were some significant gender, and ethnicity differences. Lets look at gender first.
According to Facebook stats, women use the social networking site more then men (about 50% more then men). I started to think about why this is. Even in my own household, which consists of 3 men and myself, this stat holds up. My two roommates do not even have Facebook, and my husband logs on once every few days, and mostly just to upload videos or news articles and sometimes take a peek at what his friends are up to. I on the other hand login several times a day to see what people are up to, talk with friends, keep in touch with family from both sides (including his grandmother), and post news articles.
According to the statistics linked above, women and men also use Facebook differently. Women tend to focus on friends, family, comment on other’s posts, post pictures, and events while men like to talk about pop culture, current events, and post videos. Not only does this not surprise me much, but when I started to examine my friends list I could see that this also held up. My female friends tend to be the ones who are in contact with people more, and post pictures of their families. I often will message my male friends girlfriends on Facebook to see if they want to hang out, as if I wait for my male friends to get back to me… while I’d be waiting a long time. My male friends tend to post a lot of current events stuff, and stupid videos (most of which related to, go figure, pop culture). This, as I stated before, doesn’t surprise me at all and I believe it’s probably because men and women are socialized differently.
When you think about it socialization plays a role in the real lives of individuals, why wouldn’t it play a role on Facebook? Women are often seen as the ones who deal with family issues, and take care of others. It makes perfect sense to me that we would tend to be the ones planning things out on Facebook, keeping in close contact with our friends and family members- particularly those who don’t live close, and posting the family pictures for others to see. There is no doubt about it men are not socialized like this. Men are socialized to be bread winners, and like sports. Someone else will worry about that other pesky stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t always the case. But remember I am talking generally here. And generally mom’s raise their daughters to take care of a families emotional needs, while men are raised to take care of financial needs and be protectors. It is reasonable to see this socialization spill over into other aspects of life. Including social media.
The second area where there were significant differences was around ethnicity. Now, I am sure I am going to take some flack for saying this. But Facebook appears to be such a white people problem. By this I mean, wasting time on Facebook is not necessarily a luxury all people have, globally. According to Facebook’s US data, minorities account for
only 10% of Facebook users in the USA. Why is this? If I had to take a stab in the dark I would say this is probably linked to racial inequality, both economic and otherwise.
Discrimination and marginalization is nothing new to North America. Segregation still exists in both Canada and the US. In the US blacks and whites generally occupy different residential areas of different qualities. And often as a result end up with different opportunities, such as education. In most places in the US, for example, local schools are funded solely by the property taxes in the neighbourhood. In other words, if you live in a super rich area your schools are going to be better equipped than those who live in a poorer, or poverty stricken area. Therefore, effecting not only effecting your quality of education but your every day lives. In Canada it isn’t much better.
We, as in Canadians, segregate Native Americans from us by keeping Natives on reservations located, often, on the outskirts of cities. The conditions on reserves are terrible in Canada. Reservations have high rates of infant mortality, less then substandard housing options, low access to clean water, few (if any) social services, and low life expectancy rates. Yes people, that’s right, there are people in Canada that don’t have access to clean water all the time. Obviously, leading to the same types of issues you find in poor working class neighbourhoods in the USA.
So, do you think people in these situations are thinking about Facebook? And even if they are, do you think they have time for Facebook? Most likely not. People in these types of situations are most likely worried about the small things in life you know like food, water, and education. This at least, probably, partially explains why minorities in the US interact far less with Facebook then White people do.
Let’s face it, in North America wasting time on Facebook is such a white people issue, it’s not even funny. People who find time to screw around on the social networking sites must have the access and opportunity to do so. It’s amazing that inequality, like socialization, could spill over into a place that seems on the outside, what’s the right word here? Could seem so ‘colourblind’ or ‘equal’.
So I got a little off topic, but I found all these questions absolutely fascinating when I started to just think about social media and the impact it has on society, or even how society norms, and inequalities, impact social media.
Looking back on the week my world didn’t collapse when I got off Facebook. In fact, I would argue things were better when I was off social media. That is, I got way more done in that week than I would have had I been on Facebook
and Twitter. Last week I managed to finish all my reading for 2 of my classes, and get a head start on several papers I have due this term. Making last week my most productive school week I’ve ever had. I am not saying that I will get off Facebook and Twitter. I use it a lot for my work, inspiration, and to keep in touch with people. But I will be limiting my amount of time on Facebook. One way I have done this is by removing the Facebook application from my iPhone making it harder for me to just log onto Facebook when I am bored.
This project also gave me the opportunity to examine other aspects of social media that I had never thought of before. After being off of it for a week I don’t think I will be spending as much time on the social media site. It really is just a giant waste of time. Case in point: earlier today one of my friends was having an argument with some girl because one of them had ‘cropped’ the other out of their profile picture. *sigh*. Who has the time or desire for Facebook politics?
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