According to Mashable, “Quit Facebook Day” fell flat. Did anyone ever think it would be successful? After all, we aren’t wired to quit Facebook. Yes, facebook does offer a service which is, “ultimately too important as a way of communication to give up” (as stated in the Mashable article). But there is more to it that this. Bottom line, the reason we won’t quit facebook (or twitter or any social site which has required some element of personal investment) is simply because we can’t. Psychologically, because of our investment in the platform we just don’t have it in us to quit.
Escalating commitment, also known as irrational escalation of commitment, commitment bias or lock-in, is a term oftentimes used by psychologists and even economists to explain our justification for sticking with or increasing our investment in an effort because of our cumulative prior investement even when all indicators are the investment is no longer a good one. Using the above model in Facebook usage, an individual makes a commitment to join and spends time carefully building their Facebook presence – generating followers, adding photos, talking with others publically or privately, posting updates and more. To stop using/leave Facebook means they have to give up/loose their investment. Based on this psychology Facebook could probably do a lot more to its users who would simply justify their continual use with any number of justifications.
I’m not trying to say a person’s time spent on Facebook isn’t time well spent, it might be. And what Facebook does, a consolidation of our social medias, it does very well. But I would argue the passage of each day we use Facebook (or Twitter, etc.) greatly diminishes the chance the average person will leave. Regardless of the changes Facebook might make to their platform we are staying put – unless we can take our investment with us. This, by the way, is where I am betting on the future of social media.
For some fun reading see also “Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior“