The shadowy alleyway of the internet

Via Flickr user Punchyy.

Via Flickr user Punchyy.

Do you remember Myspace or AOL Instant Messenger?

I do, though I don’t usually give them much thought. Myspace receded into the creepy alleyway of the internet, existing only in the shadows. (Apparently, the website relaunched its service in June.) I’m not sure who uses AOL IM, which was probably replaced by texting and Facebook Chat.

Sometimes, I wonder if the biggest social media sites of today — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and so on — will someday be replaced by the next great site. I used to have a Myspace account back in freshman year of high school and like everyone else in middle school and the early years of high school, I used AOL IM.

I didn’t blink when those went away. I’ve almost forgotten about them. But our sites of today disappearing would be more burdensome.

When I stopped using Myspace, I hadn’t really put much on there compared to the content I’ve amassed on Facebook. I would be thoroughly annoyed if everyone moved from Facebook to another website, and all my photos, videos, messages, and interactions from over the years were left to rot. The switching costs for me are a lot higher than they were when I stopped posting black-and-white photos of myself on Myspace.

Sometimes, I wonder if everything — Facebook, Twitter, etc. — will go away. Maybe in a decade, they’ll be as forgotten as Friendster. I want to think that the switching costs are too high. We’ve all built up our profiles, learned how to use the sites, and uploaded our content.

But companies once thought unstoppable have fallen before. New, better ones come along. It’s the cycle of capitalism.

In the meantime, I join the chorus of complaints against Facebook always changing its layout.

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