Is Silicon Valley’s growing prominence in pop culture a sign that the Valley is back? Setting aside the question of what does that really means anyway, the answer is “no,” or at least not according to Google Trends.
However, the world at large is very interested in Google and Facebook.
People often confuse Google and Facebook with Silicon Valley, but they by no means reflect the health and welfare of the thousands of startups toiling away in the trenches. The real question shouldn’t be whether “Silicon Valley has made it” but whether the prominence of these oligopolies is good for Silicon Valley.
… [T]he world of constant connectivity and media, as embodied by Facebook, is the social network’s worst enemy: in every study that distinguished the two types of Facebook experiences—active versus passive—people spent, on average, far more time passively scrolling through newsfeeds than they did actively engaging with content. This may be why general studies of overall Facebook use … so often show deleterious effects on our emotional state. Demands on our attention lead us to use Facebook more passively than actively, and passive experiences, no matter the medium, translate to feelings of disconnection and boredom.
– “How Facebook Makes Us Unhappy” by Maria Konnikova, The New Yorker, September 10, 2013
Is Facebook a good thing? In one sense, yes: as a parent of two little kids with no time to spare, it gives me an easy way to keep track of what my friends are doing. But Facebook has also devalued the concept of “friendship”: the bar to become “friends” and the effort that one has to invest in “friendships” are now so low that the word has lost much of its meaning. I also find myself passively peering at Facebook, not “engaging with content” as these studies recommend. (Truth be told, people who are “engaged” on Facebook scare me.) I worry about the impact Facebook will have on my kids and their ability to foster relationships with others. As remarkable as it is that we can now keep track of everybody in our lives, there is a cost to our dependence on Facebook, and this amount is growing with every passing day.
Facebook has a nosebleed P/E ratio of 164, and its stock has appreciated almost 60% in the last six months, but it is changing the game for advertisers. What is Yahoo doing that’s different? Like a lot of people, I want Yahoo to succeed, but a new logo just isn’t enough.