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Cup 'O Joe: Not buying Facebook

Call me crazy, but I’m not buying Facebook.

The dorm room-borne mammoth of a web site that changed the way hundreds of millions use the web held an initial public offering on May 17 that raised $16 billion, according to the New York Times. Alexa Internet, a site that measures and ranks web traffic, ranks Facebook as the second-most-visited site on the web, with the longest retention of its users (of which there are more than 900 million, worldwide.) Heck, Facebook even reportedly deletes 20,000 accounts each day, according to the company’s Chief Privacy Advisor Mozelle Thompson, and it still can’t stop growing.

And I’m still not buying it. The stock, that is.

Granted, I’m no financial guru. I have friends and family that could tell you all about revenue streams, valuations, etc., that I’m sure would make a great case for the long-term financial health of the company. However, as one of the relative few that first logged onto Facebook within 15 months of its initial launch in February 2004, I can tell you that the site has become considerably less important to me over the seven-year period that has followed. And what should be more worrying for Facebook is that Twitter, its main rival, has become one of my “go-to” sites on my daily web-surfing journeys. Here’s why:

We live in a world that is becoming increasingly proficient at, what I like to call, “internetting.” As a whole, we are becoming conditioned to consume information quicker, and thus becoming increasingly unwilling to dilly-dally around. Don’t get me wrong, we will spend hours on end around the Internet, but our attention spans are decreasing by the click.

This is Facebook’s dilemma. The site is set up in a manner that one can, given access, delve into someone else’s life through checking out photos, reading status updates, etc. This is why Facebook is a great way for relatives to stay in touch. You can almost live vicariously through others’ status updates and other multimedia uploads.

But I don’t want to be doing that all the time (no offense, Mom). It’s OK every once in a while, but I don’t have the time to be clicking through someone’s photo album that contains so many pictures it could be turned into a flip book that would tell a story of a Friday-night date.

This is where Twitter is so great. I can subscribe to my favorite writers, news organizations, etc., and I have easily digestible bits of information constantly coming into my feed. I mainly follow journalists of various news outlets, and while many of them would likely be prone to ramble on a specific subject that I may or may not care about, the medium itself protects me. I never knew I was able to process so much information so quickly until I started using it.

Which brings me back to Facebook’s IPO. Will the site fall the way of so many other online companies in the early 2000s? Not a chance. It’s way too plugged in, not just among consumers but among companies using it as an advertising platform. However, is a $16 billion IPO, reportedly the third largest sum ever offered, a tad high? I think so, and investors did too.

An article published in the May 19 issue of the Wall Street Journal cited unnamed sources who claimed that the IPO’s underwriters pumped money into the stock in an attempt to keep the price of shares from slipping. As of the close of trading Monday, the crutch may have proved to be just that, as Facebook stock prices fell about 11 percent to around $34 dollars per share.

And Twitter helped me find that information.

Joe Patrick is a reporter for the Jackson Progress-Argus.