15 Signs Facebook Has Cancer
D. Joshua is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
The deadliest cancers lie undetected for years. They spread from unseen organs like the pancreas, and ravage nearby vital organs. Tragically, all too often, by the time symptoms appear, it is too late to save the body. And death can come at frightening speed. Investors like the braying jackass who once claimed Facebook Will Be First Trillion-Dollar Stock should proceed with caution. The company may have cancer. Below I will present the symptoms. But first I will show respect.
The Undisputed Heavyweight Champion
The Herculean strength of Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is undeniable. The company has exceptional leadership, continues to add elite talent, and boasts a position in social media so dominant Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) G+ must address it as "master" or face a savage tuchus thwack from a heartless bullwhip. Facebook's moat is the most powerful moat known to man. Mark my words -- no other social media platform will unseat them. Ever. It will not happen. The potential to monetize a base that could easily exceed one billion active users is unprecendented. By forming successful partnerships with companies like Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), they could feasibly open up currently unseen revenue streams. For example, the next generation may be willing to pay to watch movies with friends, regardless of physical distance. Or bedtime.
So if they have excellent leadership, a dominant position, a moat large enough to protect the Milky Way and staggering potential, where's the cancer? The cancer is in the relationship between the company and its customers. It's in the customers' gut feeling about about the value of spending time on social media. Watching Facebook interact with its community is like watching the early part of the Tom Cruise-Katy Holmes marriage. Or grandpa grimace and lift his leg on the couch. You sense things are going to end badly.
Defining the Symptoms
Before I begin, let me note that I was a high-frequency FB poster who got fed up with the whole idea of social media, and recently dropped out completely. Despite friends mocking me, insisting I would be back, I feel as footloose and fancy free as a man who just found out he no longer has to wear a backpack full of moose chips.
The following is a list of things that I believe, collectively, could add up to a massive user exodus. Not to another service, just to a life without social media. Think of each of these things as a free radical, up to no good, in the body of this 46 billion-dollar market cap muscle man of a stock.
1) The more time you spend on Facebook the worse you feel.
2) Your friends almost never have anything interesting to say.
3) The more you post the more your friends think you're a loser.
4) The more you post the more you are a loser. Ask a successful friend how much time he spends on Facebook and watch the smirk of condescension. Your hyper-opinionated, unemployed bro who knows how to run global monetary policy? He's on 24/7.
5) Let me get this straight: I post funny things, cool pictures, product reviews ... and Facebook makes money off of my efforts? So, why wouldn't I just have my own website?
6) FB devalues the word friend. That dumbbell you met at the Shakey's pizza party for your kids' soccer team is not your friend.
7) FB earns money off people's personal data. That feels wrong. They provide connection, sure. But still the esesntial idea feels wrong.
8) FB is like a billion toddlers jumping on the bed, shouting for mommy's attention.
9) Posting something thoughtful, heartfelt or passionate on FB makes you feel like an idiot. Next time someone you love dies see how it feels to post your heartbreak by someone's photo of their cat who looks like he has a mustache. Brutal.
10) Getting all of your friends to "like" your website is not a business plan.
11) Owning a virtual farm is sad. It's so very sad. I'm crying right now just thinking about it. And bawling that I missed shorting Farmville creator, Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA). Canary in the Facebook coal mine?
12) Watching companies struggle to post useful content is excruciating.
13) FB offers users a chance to project a celebrity-lite narrative of their lives. One might argue this fills an essential human need: to make life seem more interesting and exciting than it actually is. Still, seeing shots of your buddy with his arm wrapped around a celebrity is pathetic.
14) I'm sure information on Gmail is no safer but having an edgy conversation where you share intimitate details on FB is like having a conversation on a phone that you know is bugged.
15) Facebook promotes a culture of endless judgment. How many likes did I get?! Woof woof, can I have a Scooby Snack! Again, just feels bad. All our lives - in school, at work, we're faced with endless review of our every word and deed. Do we really want to have every thought and photo we share with supposed friends judged by the number of likes?
16) (Always underpromise and overdeliver) FB offers nothing essential. Nothing you could not easily replace with a phone call, email or God forbid, doing something in real reality. Supposedly, there's such great ad revenue to be generated by getting product reviews from friends. Sorry, but I couldn't care less which shaving cream my buddy uses. And if I need advice for something big, like a car or TV, I use the phone. If FB vanished tomorrow, all you would lose is an addiction. That's a good thing.
Facebook is being eaten alive, from within, by cancer. Their customers do not like using the service. They're addicted to it because there's always something new to see. They sense that a) they are wasting their time, and b) the company is raking in billions off their efforts and information. These are terminal negatives. This leaves the door wide open for a possible mass exodus. As quickly as people came in, they can flood out -- though FB makes quitting absurdly difficult.
The bottom line is people are overloaded with information and noise -- from TVs senselessly placed in once quiet restaurants, talking ads in supermarket aisles, robocalls from politicians, jet planes roaring overhead, those annoying little ads tied with rubber bands to our doorknobs and worse. Logging onto Facebook is like being morbidly obese and pulling up to Kentucky Fried Chicken. It's the last thing we need.
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