The end of social media?

By Russell Beale on Aug 16, 12 12:13 PM in Science

Facebook was offered to investors at $38/share - and at the time, I commented that I'd love to be able to short the stock. It's now at about $21, so I'd have made a killing. Mind you, I'd have made a killing if I'd have sold my shares in Psion years ago when I'd bought them for pence and they reached the heights of pounds. I event told my sister to sell when she asked for my view - but I didn't follow it myself, and now they're worth.....less.

Reports suggest that many investors who got in early enough can still make a lot from selling Facebook shares now that they are able to, but for the standard investor, it's not an obvious share to make a quick buck on.

In order to assess whether it's a good investment, one needs to have a view of where social media is likely to go, and how well it will make money. Of course, fundamentals like current price and net asset value and other such complexities come into play, but essentially, if it's a good business in a sector that is going to continue to grow, that's much more likely to be a good proposition.

It's this latter part that is, for me, in question in the social media space. I'd though it was that many people are now getting fed up of telling the world what they're doing every day, but it's not really that (though there is an element of boredom that comes into play). I think it's more that it's moved from being "social" media to being a self-promoting media - less of a conversation, and more of a bragging match. It's also less about friends and more about about commercial interests - 'Like' this and get a free that - and we don't want to see that cluttering up our conversations.

Privacy concerns are relevant - not the technical issues over who does what with your data (for if we actually understood, we'd not go near a keyboard again in fear!) but the general feeling that it may not be a good idea to life you life online in front of bosses and partners current, past and future: that recording your anger, sadness, despair, happiness, humour and passions for all to see and replay later on may not be such a good idea.

Sure, social media can be, as a friend pointed out to me, a serendipitous source of information, a friend-biased lens through which to experience the world, as well as a good way to share photos of little tiddler's birthday with all and sundry. But the cost is getting to be too high, in terms of time and potential for disaster. Personally, I'm planning to spend the time I used to spend on Facebook learning to play the guitar, as I think it'll give me more satisfaction and pleasure. I'll still keep my account, and will go there once a week to see how my friends are doing. But as many of them are doing the same, it'll only take a few minutes anyway. And because of this, I'm not going to buy FB.


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