Can an application that boasts over 400 million users and is the second most popular website in the world ever be considered ‘cool’? Well, the people using the social network application Facebook certainly seem to believe that it is. They would argue that its very popularity is precisely what makes the application so hip. Others would argue Facebook has sold its soul chasing this popularity.
Surely though, isn’t being cool all about being part of a small and exclusive circle? Think of the kids at school having a crafty smoke behind the bike sheds, or the Punks rattling a few cages in the seventies. They were cool, or so they thought – for a while at least. History teaches us many lessons, but one of the most important surely is that the more popular any movement or trend becomes, the less cool it gets. It might almost be worthy of becoming the eleventh commandment – thou shall not become popular.
What Facebook has become is a marketer’s dream – a global trend where everyone has staked a claim. Well, maybe not everyone yet, but a very large proportion at least. The evidence is there for all to see. Look at your own Friends List and tell me that your parents or elderly aunt aren’t on there. Better still; tell me that you know every name on that list. Most people don’t and most people don’t care. The point is simply to be part of it. MySpace was never like this. Granted, it gained a kind of momentum as more people joined its ranks, but it quickly slid off the scale when the ‘cool’ ones moved elsewhere. Facebook continues to expand even without the cool types.
Facebook is now a homogenous part and parcel of everyone’s life and, for many, it’s the first application they look at when they turn the computer on. It spans the generations and age groups. Facebook is now mainstream. Its popularity and universality ensure it will be around for many years to come. So what if it’s not seen as being cool any more? Coolness is usually the tag claimed by those groups who strive to be different. Facebook doesn’t want to be different – it wants to be normal and universal.
There may be a new ‘cool’ application waiting in the wings to take away the social media crown from Facebook, but I wouldn’t bet on it happening any time in the near future.