The Anti-Social Network

Being a contrarian has served me well as an investor and in life in general. It is my nature to be skeptical, especially about anything that’s new and currently popular. It’s my “MC Hammer” theory that things, which make a lot of noise without providing any real benefit to society, are typically transitory events. It is heresy at this moment to suggest that social media is one of those things that will be hammered in the near future.

Many have reported that Facebook has experienced the first decline in users since its inception, not just in the United States, but also in the U.K., Canada and Russia. Many theories have been forwarded including the most often cited reason that teen users are tuning out now that their parents are using the service. That’s part of it.

Loss of “coolness” is devastating to fads that have limited real utility or have become dangerous. Clearly, Facebook is no longer cool. A renegade blog can be cool, but once a medium is taken over by advertisers and Wall Street, there better be some real benefits for trendsetters to stick around.

At its core, Facebook is narcissistic. Many people see themselves as the sun and their relationships revolve around them. They have also seen that those who obtain fame of any kind for any reason seem to get all the “goodies” in life. Facebook provides the illusion for those who have not been discovered by the mainstream or have failed to contribute anything noteworthy to feel what they are doing actually matters to the world. When nothing happens other than being connected with other delusional people, the game grows tedious.

Then there is the dark side of social media. How many more famous people need to be caught revealing too much of their psyches and their physiques to the public before everyone realizes how dangerous it can be to say and show too much of yourself? Facebook is a permanent posting of your various indiscretions and is seemingly available to anyone who wants to take a look. Your employer knows you smoke weed. The IRS knows you made a big score this year. Your significant other knows you’re cheating. The exhilaration of sharing yourself with the world seems to be intoxicating to many. At least drunk dialing was private and usually forgotten.

So am I recommending you pull the plug on Facebook? Not necessarily. Just remember you’re in a public place. Would Anthony Weiner have thought it a good idea to display his package in Times Square? Probably not. Oh, I know. That was Twitter, the social medium with even less quality content than Facebook. “what r u eating?” “food”.

What I am recommending is that you not INVEST in social media. After the successful IPO launch of LinkedIn and the wildly inflated prices being paid for non-public Facebook shares, there will be many more of these social media companies coming to Wall Street to cash in. Unless you are among the privileged few who are granted IPO shares before the general public, I suggest you stay away.

You want to know what I had for breakfast? I didn’t think so.