A new Pew study on the Facebooking habits of the American adult


Two-thirds of online American adults (67%) are Facebook users, making Facebook the dominant social networking site in this country, according to findings released today from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. More of the tl;dr bullet points touted in a study announcement out this morning:

61% of current Facebook users say that at one time or another in the past they have voluntarily taken a break from using Facebook for a period of several weeks or more.

20% of the online adults who do not currently use Facebook say they once used the site but no longer do so.

8% of online adults who do not currently use Facebook are interested in becoming Facebook users in the future.

We asked the 61% of Facebook users who have taken a break from using the site to tell us in their own words why they did so, and they mentioned a variety of reasons. The largest group (21%) said that their “Facebook vacation” was a result of being too busy with other demands or not having time to spend on the site. Others pointed toward a general lack of interest in the site itself (10% mentioned this in one way or another), an absence of compelling content (10%), excessive gossip or “drama” from their friends (9%), or concerns that they were spending too much time on the site and needed to take a break (8%).

I'm shocked that "can't fucking stand Facebook anymore" wasn't a popular answer. It's why I left. More: Coming and Going on Facebook | Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.


  1. I’ve always found it easy to avoid making an account there.. when it first came on the radar, everyone was saying how great it is for getting in contact with people you went to high school with. Except there’s no one in high school I wanted to talk to. So, no account made. (though, oddly, there was a period where I’d get spam emails about people trying to find me on facebook) Then eventually it turned into what it is now, basically an overblown contacts list with some chat thrown in. Around that time the privacy concerns were the big topic, which confirmed my decision to never sign up on the site.

    My only real curiosity is what facebook knows about me anyways.

  2. I think it’s easy for folks with long-time, deep and well-crafted online networks to poo-poo FB. People who go back to early bbs’s, forums, even earlier sharing platforms, personal blogs, etc. If you’re someone like that (which includes me), then FB seems… somewhat garish, intrusive, ham-handed, etc (except compared to MySpace ver 1.0… which made FB look like art).

    For people like 75% of my friends and 99% of my parents’ friends, FB is an easy way to do what we’ve taken for granted for years; share stuff easily. These are people who have a hard time attaching a picture to email. They’re also people who have, in many cases, given up on email except at work, because of the spam and junk. For quick notes to somebody saying, “hey, I’ll be in town next week,” a FB pm makes great sense. And if you want to chat with multiple people about an event.. also a decent tool.

    I have all kinds of issues with FB regarding their advertising model, privacy issues, etc. But it does lots of little things OK without requiring a manual. It’s ‘good enough” for enough people. I’m waiting for a paid model with no ads and really good privacy to eat it, though.

    1. This is true from my perspective.  I straddle both worlds. I’ve participated in online forums and BBS’s for long time, so I understand in many respects facebook is nothing special — but on the otherhand I have no online identity the way bloggers or tech journalists do, and rely on facebook for that purpose.

      [deleted pointless stuff]

    2. this is the best explanation i’ve read for why facebook — against my every prediction — continues to roll along. thank you : )

  3. I wanted to know what percentage of Facebookers visited the site while using the bathroom at work.  I don’t use Facebook.  I am an intensely private person and have no interest in sharing personal photos, thoughts and other information with a billion people or try to keep on top of HOW to avoid sharing everything with everyone.

  4. Facebook is the new fast food: inexpensive and ubiquitous. In two generations, our children’s children will have the narcissistic equivalent of obesity and adult-onset diabetes.

    But fuck it, it’s easy, right?

    1. I don’t think you give that future group enough credit.

      I can’t image the deluge of information from multiple streams (watch, glasses, tablet, tv, implant??) that they would have to sift through that would fry our brains to a crisp. 10 billion and counting population (and the competition), being polyglot as the norm (unlike great-uncle Phil who only knows English), etc.

      They will think Facebook is a quaint old lady’s knitting circle in comparison with what they will have by then.

      1. My ADHD brain is fried to a crisp by social media as it is (I can barely manage facebook; twitter is practically unusuable). The future will be amazing! But people will grow up doing quick mode switching and filtering and will be used to it. I don’t know if everyone will be polyglot. It makes sense I guess, but my fervent hope is that as communication increases languages will start to merge and die out.

        1.  Me too on the ADHD thing.  Too much information to peruse and enjoy, weird social pressure to like/not like something, the deluge of absolutely useless information that’s sent my way…Facebook is too much.  Also, there’s a squirrel…

  5. I’m sort of forced to use it since my family and some industry contacts are on it plus I have a group created for 10 close friends that I frequent a lot.

    If it wasn’t for them, I would kick the thing to the curb in a heartbeat.

  6. Last week my father-in-law, a retired Greek restaurateur who has always held the line against computers of any sort, came over for a visit. 

    I knew that Facebook’s conquest was complete when he asked if he could use my laptop to get on to his account for awhile.

  7. I don’t like Facebook in so many ways.  And for a long time I resisted using it completely, except for when a family member sent me a direct message.  But I’ve changed, recently… I think it may be good for me.  I’m speaking personally here, I don’t necessarily think it’s good for most people, just me (and maybe, people like me).

    See, here’s the thing.  I’m very, very isolated.  I have a lot of trouble interacting with people in person, even in family.  I don’t know for sure whether or not it’s obvious, because I can sort of fake my way through minor, casual conversation, and when it’s “strictly business” but I never seem to manage to make meaningful connections to people on a one-to-one basis.  Even relatively unmeaningful ones, like discussing a TV show in common or something like that, I can do it if they lead or find a good opening, but I can’t seem to manage to do it if there is no opening.

    And even with relatively close family I find I can’t express myself like I do in text (which isn’t all that great, but, whatever), it’s like half my brain turns off when there’s somebody else in the room. 

    It’s easy to feel all alone in the world.  For most of my life, I’ve gotten through it online, maybe not forming deep friendships, but at least ones where I have people to talk to.  Except lately a lot of my old online groups have been slowly drifting apart, and it’s still pretty hard for me to connect to new people.

    I’ve had Facebook for a while, but recently I decided to make an effort to actually follow the feed, comment where appropriate, and make my own status updates (trying to find at least one thing to post about a week).  And I can, and be somewhat more open there than I am in person… even if it’s just jokes, the feeling that you make people, people you know, laugh a little, is encouraging, even a little confidence-building.   A feeling that I do actually exist, that I’m not just some phantom shadow of the Internet with no actual existence in the real world.   If I run into some of these people in person, I might, possibly, have something more to say to them than just a “hi, oh, fine, how’s it going with you, okay, well, see you later”.  I find myself considering being more open about my real ideas and opinions with people that should know me than I’ve ever been.  Not quite enough to make a soul-bearing post of the type I’m doing now, but you know, baby-steps.

    I wish there was something better than Facebook for this purpose because I still do hate so much about it.  Unfortunately, while there are potentially many things that, technically and policy wise are or could be loads better, the one thing that it requires in order to become better overall is the same near-universal adoption.

  8. To be fair, Facebook has a surprisingly user-hostile interface. If you want to do something other than splatter your private business all over the internet, Facebook turns into Microsoft Word. So I understand all the spite. It is a poor product that will be summarily replaced by something better. People who are still using Facebook will be treated with the same pity we currently bestow upon folks with an AOL account.

    On the other hand, people who proclaim proudly that they’re not using Facebook remind me of the gentle geniuses who inform you that they have no television set. Not having a TV set in 1978 was a startling stance to take. Now it just seems willfully illiterate. Like yelling “I don’t read Comic Books!”

    The best place to tell everyone you don’t use Facebook? The Internet, hands down.

  9. I deeply love Facebook. And it has nothing to do with Facebook, per se. It’s a gathering place. I joined fairly late, April 2011, and quickly realized what I was missing. I had worried about non-friends from high school creeping back into my life, but what I got were a lot of long-lost friends from early adulthood (I’m in my early 50s), people I’m still friends with but don’t run into geographically, relatives and friends up and down the generations, people I never knew whom I’ve connected with through mutual friends and/or interests, and, yes, people from high school (and earlier), whom I didn’t realize I actually wanted back into my life. Generally, Facebook (as I’ve made it through my friends) has an incredibly sincere tone. The ugliness and snark of anonymous comments sections found almost everywhere else on the interwebs (yes, even here at BoingBoing) is largely absent … from the Facebook as I’ve created for myself. Facebook has made me far more social than I’d been just prior to joining (again, I’m in my early 50s — isolation can happen after the go-go years of youth). I communicate with enriching regularity with a wide range of friends and associates, in a way that I just wasn’t doing prior to joining. Two of my best friends on Facebook are actually very cool grandmothers I met through friends of friends (who themselves aren’t even Facebook friends). So, again, it has nothing to do with Facebook, per se. It is the people we know and have come to know on Facebook, and that’s why I don’t see users migrating away in huge numbers. It isn’t the code the interface is written in, no more than where you and your friends hang out in physical space is greatly dependent on the architecture. It is the community. And, gosh darn it, we like each other!

Comments are closed.