For millions of people around the world, posting to Facebook is a routine affair that happens daily, if not multiple times a day. But it’s not uncommon for someone to dramatically slow how much they post, or to stop posting altogether and “go dark”. What does it mean when this happens? Should you worry? Here are some possibilities about what might be happening.
Facebook silence on personal accounts
1. The person is seriously busy.
This is the simplest explanation for Facebook darkness. Research shows that people spend an average of 135 minutes a day on social media. But an individual might put Facebook on the back burner if other demands–for example, a stretch project or transitioning to a new technology system in the office–intensify.
2. The individual is taking time to unplug.
In recent years, the concept of “unplugging” or spending time without technology has gained a ton of steam. The idea is, when you get off Facebook or other social media, you get to reconnect with yourself and others and remember what’s really important. Many people who go dark for this reason will put up a courtesy post saying they won’t be on Facebook for a while, but they don’t always do this.
3. The person is frustrated or discouraged with what they see coming across their Facebook feed.
Social media can be saturated with all kinds of drama, whether it’s people ending romantic relationships or spewing political rhetoric. People sometimes get to a point where they find these kinds of interactions draining, and they’ll pull back from using Facebook as a result. When they feel like the drama is quieting, or when their circumstances are less stressful and enable them to cope better, they come back to the platform. It’s worth noting here, too, that experts have found using social media often eats away at self-esteem because of the way people compare themselves to what they see. People sometimes need a Facebook hiatus to stop feeling like they’re less worthy.
4. The person is depressed for reasons outside of Facebook.
Withdrawal from friends and family is one of the most basic symptoms of depression. But because so much of the interaction we do now is Internet based, inactivity on a social media account after an extended pattern of consistent interaction should be viewed under the same lens as face-to-face withdrawal. Looking at the tone of what the person posted before their Facebook silence might give you a sense of whether the person is struggling.
Facebook silence on business accounts
Facebook business accounts might be manned by a single marketing or social media expert, but the posts represent the pulse of the entire business. Even if a company decides that other marketing and forms of interaction give better results, most companies won’t cut posts altogether. They avoid total darkness because they understand that social still reaches a percentage of their audience. Extended silence thus usually is reason for concern. The company might be experiencing some major internal changes. They go dark, even when they sincerely value transparency, because they don’t have a clear goal or direction they can communicate to customers in writing.
What to do to turn the light back on
At the very least, for individuals, Facebook silence signals that a person needs a break, if only to rest or reaffirm the joy of life outside of devices. At worst, it signals that the individual is going through a period of real emotional suffering. Darkness from a company similarly means that the business likely is in some degree of turmoil. In all cases, seeing silence is your cue to ask face-to-face if you can help. Maybe they can delegate to you, for example, or you could offer some feedback to the company. The bottom line is, don’t let your response to Facebook silence be more silence.