The Herald Bulletin

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April 2, 2013

As Facebook matures, is it losing its edge?

NEW YORK — To see what Facebook has become, look no further than the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer.

Sometime last year, people began sharing tongue-in-cheek online reviews of the banana-shaped piece of yellow plastic with their Facebook friends. Then those friends shared with their friends. Soon, after Amazon paid to promote it, posts featuring the $3.49 utensil were appearing in even more Facebook feeds.

At some point, though, the joke got old. But there it was, again and again — the banana slicer had become a Facebook version of that old knock-knock joke your weird uncle has been telling for years.

The Hutzler 571 phenomenon is a regular occurrence on the world's biggest online social network, which begs the question: Has Facebook become less fun?

That's something many users — especially those in their teens and early 20s — are asking themselves as they wade through endless posts, photos "liked" by people they barely know and spur-of-the moment friend requests. Has it all become too much of a chore? Are the important life events of your closest loved ones drowning in a sea of banana slicer jokes?

"When I first got Facebook I literally thought it was the coolest thing to have. If you had a Facebook you kind of fit in better, because other people had one," says Rachel Fernandez, 18, who first signed on to the site four or five years ago.

And now? "Facebook got kind of boring," she says.

Chatter about Facebook's demise never seems to die down, whether it's talk of "Facebook fatigue," or grousing about how the social network lost its cool once grandma joined. The Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project recently found that some 61 percent of Facebook users had taken a hiatus from the site for reasons that range from "too much gossip and drama" to "boredom." Some respondents said there simply isn't enough time in their day for Facebook.

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