By Toneo Tonderai Rutsito
“Sorry I’m no longer on Facebook”, This statement now common with Zimbabwean youths will probably mean that someone has abandoned personal account, taken a break or worst case deleted the account altogether.
Ofcourse for obvious reasons , very few users have gone to the extremes of actually deleting the account for both technical and emotional reasons associated with such a move.
At the height of Zimbabwean dollar crisis, while most adults were focusing more on ways of feeding their families, Facebook was going mainstream with the youths, who discovered new ways to escape the economic stresses hitting hard the nation.
Most adults easily brushed off the attention of rsocial networks as there were more serious bread and butter issues to deal with.
Even after the meltdown, when our Economy was picking up, we still had a problem with the elderly generation, the most obvious reason is because they come from the (B.C )generation, thus Before Computers of course.
Convincing a generation of our parents that came from the 60s and below to join social networks is probably one of the greatest technological achievement in Zimbabwe, besides social networking , the whole computing generation came years after they were certified by type writers , for those fortunate to get closer to the qwerty world order.
Anyway, before I lose track, this background is the main reason why we naturally do not have the same or proportionate number of onliners amongst the youths and adults in Zimbabwe, with the word youth, lets have 35 years as the ceiling for argument sake.
With millions of youths already online in Zimbabwe, an estimated 75% of the 13 million nationals, a huge chunk of this number is already reportedly quitting social network, specifically Facebook.
The major reason cited by youths is privacy, pursuing a much more private and confidential lifestyle and in some cases trying to run away from the past life as facebook makes it so easy to stalk or open healing wounds.
I have known of a chunk who bate never to come back on Facebook and others now officially operating on pseudo names. This goes to show how much of an old life these youths are ready to lose as most of them probably turn over a new leaf or pursue a much more serious career or create a new online identity
For Social Media Marketers, (SMM), this is the bad news they would rather not believe. Marketers would rather accept this as a mere illusion as tables are finally turning in Zimbabwe.
Interestingly, tables are now turning as those born (Before Computers) are seriously realising the potential of the new online world order and social network at the time the youths are actually bowing out!
Suddenly for Zimbabweans Facebook has become the business with hundreds of people running huge pages of more than 200 000 fans taking all the attention from the casual socialising to casual business.
Internationally the trend is the same, Facebook via business insider admitted that youths are leaving Facebook and this really makes the prospects uncertain, especially for those organisation targeting youths online.
As Facebook has become the virtual online key, on most websites and emerging online platforms, they now officially accept a Facebook login as an acceptable way to join or register on their platforms.
Every business now seriously considers Facebook as a vital component while the pioneers of the game, the youths are kissing it Goodbye, what would rather be much more interesting are reasons why the adults would never quit Facebook, this time around.
Are we likely to see the change of online habits in the near future, is Facebook really a marketing panacea, what happens when something better than Facebook emerges?
Intrestingly, im still penning down my reasons why Zimbabwean adults will not leave Facebook
Should we expect another shift or that’s just impossible, well this is just Food for thought.