A majority of adults who use Facebook have voluntarily taken a significant break — an extended vacation — from the social media website, according to a new report by the Pew Internet Project.
A major finding of "Coming and Going on Facebook" is that 61 percent of current Facebook users have "voluntarily taken a break from Facebook for a period of several weeks or more."
The top reasons given for a self-enforced Facebook hiatus were "didn't have time," "just didn't like it" and "waste of time."
Michael Archer, a 28-year-old college student at Kent State in Ohio, took a three-month break from Facebook because "it got obnoxious — I didn't care about it anymore, the older I got, it became the least of my concerns."
He's back on Facebook now — mainly so he can stay in touch with friends who rely heavily on Facebook — but he has significantly reduced the time he spends on the site.
"I realized people rely on Facebook more than they should," he said. "I thought that I could get on there so people know I'm out there. It's different than how I used to use it a lot. I cut back my usage; I'm not on there every day of the week."
Other significant findings from the report:
67 percent of online adults use Facebook — a figure that greatly dwarfs the percentage of online adults who use LinkedIn (20 percent) and Twitter (16 percent).
6.6 percent of online adults previously used Facebook regularly, but no longer do so.
2.6 percent of online adults are not currently using Facebook, but would like to do so in the future — meaning the growth potential for Facebook to acquire more users appears to be very limited.
"These data show that people are trying to make new calibrations in their life to accommodate new social tools," said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet Project and a co-author of the new report.
"For some, the central calculation is how they spend their time. For others, it's more of a social reckoning as they ask themselves, 'What are my friends doing and thinking and how much does that matter to me?' They are adding up the pluses and minuses on a kind of networking balance sheet and they are trying to figure out how much they get out of connectivity vs. how much they put into it."
Forbes.com contributor Alex Kantrowitz speculated about how "Facebook vacations" could affect the larger social media landscape: "This could mean increased traffic for smaller social sites like Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook-owned Instagram. Young folks may be taking Facebook breaks, but that doesn't mean they're leaving the game completely."
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