For part two click here: whatsapp: the facts
For part three, click here: twitter: the facts
For part four, click here: instagram: the facts
Facebook is an indispensible part of everyday life for many people in Alto Hospicio. In my survey of 100 people, only 5 (average age 47) had never had a Facebook account, and no one who completed the survey had left Facebook. The youngest people surveyed or interviewed were 16, and the oldest in their mid 50s (because Alto Hospicio is a fairly new city, the older population is quite small). Forty-five of the people surveyed were “always connected” to Facebook, and 82 of 100 checked Facebook at least once a day.
Facebook is a platform that allows users to interact in a number of ways, whether posting original photos, sharing memes or new articles, writing original text, or commenting on any of their friends’ posts. Given the number of options, it is used by individuals in very different ways, often depending upon gender and age.
Young women, in their late teens spend the most time on Facebook, with 80% of survey participants reporting that their Facebook account is “always connected,” whether on their smartphone or computer. They average about 610 friends, with the highest reported at 2,000 and the lowest 100. More than half update their status at least once a day, and about 1/3 update it several times a day. However, very few post photos frequently, usually only 3-5 photos at a time and less than once a week. Almost all like things their friends post more than once a day, but they write comments far less often. More than 80% of teen girls say that their friends are likely to write on their Facebook wall often.
But the real value of Facebook for these young women is chatting. They use Facebook chat with far higher frequency than email, skype, WhatsApp, or even text messaging. They use Facebook chat mostly with neighborhood or school friends and their significant other, but only occasionally with family. Yet they say less than half of their online friends are actually from Alto Hospicio (about 40% of friends on average). They are almost always accessing Facebook from their homes using shared computers—whether desktops or laptops. Sixty percent of teen girls have only 1 account, 20% have 2, 10% have 3, and 10% have 4, the highest number reported, yet no one claimed that their profiles were “fake,” “anonymous,” or not representing herself. Not a single woman under 20 reported that she felt Facebook had contributed to her becoming more politically active. Overall, this usage is incredibly geared towards maintaining social relations among school and neighborhood friends. While these girls might have friends from other cities, and certainly are friends with mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and cousins, the majority of their time and typing energy is spent on maintaining relationships with age-group friends within the city. Yet, they don’t necessarily see Facebook as key to their happiness. Only 20% say that Facebook makes them happier while 10% say it makes them less happy. The other 70% say that Facebook has not changed their happiness at all.
Teens, in general, are one of the most important groups that use Facebook. They usually have more than 500 friends, the majority of which are friends from school or the neighborhood, who they communicate with using Facebook’s chat function. Chat is the primary reason for connecting to Facebook, rather than taking full advantage of photo sharing, writing original status updates, or commenting on others’. Yet 95% of those that took the survey say that their friends post something on their walls often.
While in some locations around the world, Facebook is losing hold with teens, as they migrate to platforms such as Whatsapp, Twitter, or even Snapchat, there is no discernable movement away from Facebook in Alto Hospicio. While 37% say they use Facebook less than before, the same number say they use it more than before, and 25% say their use has remained the same. One telling sign is that over 70% of teens report that they are “always connected” on Facebook.
As individuals enter their young adulthood, Facebook use changes. For people aged 20-30 men use Facebook far more than women. While almost 70% of men are always connected to Facebook, only 42% of women stay logged in. Almost all men use Facebook at work (96%) and often in the home (62%) while almost all women connect at home (95%) and sometimes at work (70%). This is likely due to the fact that men more often work in industries like mining and construction where there is likely to be down-time, whereas women work in service industries such as retail, food service, teaching, and secretarial work, where their attention to others is necessary at all times.
Both groups average between 600-700 friends with the most being 5000 for both groups and the least friends being under 100. While a little less than half of both men and women update their status daily, in general men’s use is slightly more public than women’s. Men like their friends’ statuses more often (75% vs 67% at least once daily, averaging about 103 likes per month vs 54 for women), comment on friends’ statues more often (62% vs 48% at least once daily, averaging 89 comments pero month vs 55 for women), and share more (though men and women are equally as likely to share a post once a day, men share an average of 45 other users’ links, statuses, photos, or videos per month, women only average 25). Men also send more private messages per month on average than women.
However, women’s social circles are far wider geographically. Though women are slightly more likely to be born in the North of Chile than men (52% vs 46%), on average they use Facebook messages with twice and many people outside of Alto Hospicio as men (40% vs 19%). Women report having more Facebook friends that they have never met face-to-face (28% vs 19%), and are more likely to say that they know more people because of Facebook (60% vs 44%).
After the age of 30, Facebook use declines. Number of people always connected drops below 50%, and number for friends drop drastically as well. For ages 30-49, average number of friends drops to between 350-400. For those 50 and above the average was only 50 friends. While more than 90% of people under the age of 40 who use Facebook log on at least once a day, this number drops to only 64% above the age of 50. Most people who have told me they actively avoid using social networking are also above the age of 50.
Most people above 45 primarily use Facebook as a way of connecting to the younger generation of their family. As Jorge, a miner, commented to me he mostly connects to Facebook while at work in order to keep up with the pictures of his grandson. Others, use Facebook to interact with their older children. Louisa is one such example. She lives in a 1 floor home in El Centro with her husband, daughter (23) and granddaughter (10). She has two sons that each live with their families within a short walk of the house. She sees almost all of her family members on a daily basis, but uses Facebook to see their pictures, comment, and give them encouragement, which she posts on their timelines. Though Facebook is not a necessary for staying in contact with her family, it adds a new dimension to their relationships. Louisa says she especially likes it because it allows her to look back weeks or months later and remember what was going on in her life.
Facebook then, is not just one thing for people in Alto Hospicio. It takes on different roles depending on age, gender, occupation, or other life circumstances. It may be a life line to family, a repository of memories, or the primary mode of communicating, planning, and even gossiping with friends. But whatever it's function, it is important for a great majority of people in Alto Hospicio.