Twitter (TWTR, -14.5%) and Facebook (FB, +1.78%), as a means of online social interaction and chat, have also become a useful tool for business communication as well what many might consider their controversial use as platforms publicizing political views and events.
The effect of the continual use of social media on the psyche has resulted in what appears to be an increasing numbers of private users abandoning the sites. In what could almost be compared to a withdrawal for an addiction to social media, a National Day of Unplugging, and an ever more extreme digital detox camp for adults, are in the offing.
There also appears to be a growing movement among Christian groups where those that observe the month of lent are giving up Facebook or Twitter as their “sacrifice” for the month. According to a California research firm, Barna Group, 16% off those that observed the temporary abstinence of a regular food or activity during lent, abstained also from using their favorite social media.
The danger to the social media sites is that this could range from a short to a longer term reduction in the number of users.
Tanya Schevitz, a spokesperson for Reboot, a Jewish nonprofit and the organization behind the National Day of Unplugging, says the trend “has definitely taken hold.”
Many users of social media are starting to realize what a time drain the activity really is as it distracts them from their normal daily business or routine. The degree of discomfort felt by many users at the personal disclosures made by other users that may be hurtful or embarrassing is another reason to stay away from social sites.
While numbers might decrease for some of these reasons, the power of social media should not be underestimated when events such as the Arab Spring or the revolution in Egypt came about as a result of social media campaigns.
The use of social media for delivering political and other messages in countries where repressive regimes censor what their citizens may hear and see, can be of vital importance in disseminating news and views.
According to Statista, Facebook has 1.2 billion users while Twitter has 288 million users, with such large numbers meaning that the loss of a few hundred thousand users would hardly be felt.
At the end of the day, social media has become an increasingly important method of communication with users ranging from popes to presidents getting their message across on social sites.