For over eighteen years I have used the Internet. I used the Internet before even websites were common place. I have been socializing online well before that horrible buzz word “social media” was invented.
No matter what site I used, message boards, video sharing sites, aol, Facebook, I always would see the same things happen.
Out of the blue you will discover the site with curiosity. You will start to play around with it’s features. You will end up finding friends who share your interests or ideology. If you didn’t find the site interesting at all, at this stage you will stop going after only a few times.
Forming the site as a habit.
At this stage you will start going to this place more and more. You will either bookmark the site or have a prominent link to your profile (if applicable) on your blog. You will start to talk to your IRL friends about the site. They will not understand why you waste your time there. In some cases, you will even try to make friends IRL with your site’s buddies.
Addiction and dependency.
At this point, the addiction to the site is at a fully blown epidemic. You will start to skip work or school because of this site. Often you will even use the mobile app of the site. You will see your Internet friends as kindred souls.
Questioning the motives of members.
Here is when things start to get messy. You will start to question, either openly or privately the motives of your Internet friends. Are they your real friends, or are they just people who only exist on the Internet? Can they be trusted with even a small secret?
Disagreement with policy, other members or both.
Now, you will either start to tire of many of the sites members’ antics. You will also question how the place is run or recoil at any new changes. You want the place to stay the same, but the sites owners either don’t care or care about a select few people.
Boredom or Outright revolt.
The site now is no longer fun anymore. You are bored or fed up with newer users who don’t understand how good the place used to be. The current or new management doesn’t want to listen you bitch about things. At this time you are either outspoken against this place or are motivated to cause a rebellion. You also may be outgrowing the place after being on it for a few years.
Rage quit or banning.
You have been pushed to the edge. One day you will get banned for doing something stupid or suspended for revolting. In larger communities you won’t even wait for that to happen, you will leave first. Sometimes it’s accompanied by a sob story as a way to garner sympathy one last time. More than often you will use the delete function and leave it at that.
One day, often very quickly you come crawling back! You realize how boring your life with that social site is and try again. You may not have the same clout you once had. Hell, you might be ostracized enough to leave again. The main reason you came back is because you missed your old friends!
Secondary habit or “re-purposing” the site.
Sometimes a older site that you used to go to might be used differently. You aren’t as addicted but you will use it for another reason or at certain situations. Instead of being an active contributor, you will mainly lurk or view the service at certain times.
If you reached this point you will just stop going to that place PERIOD. At this stage, you have replaced it with one or more places. Then the cycle continues…..