Facebook is slowly dying in the eyes of young people, there is no point in denying that. There certainly are platforms that are far more appealing to the young audience. It still does have its target and Facebook advertising is still a big and reliable thing for many business owners. Gen Z however, doesn’t really find it cool anymore. For me personally, Facebook is something I reach for when there really is nothing else to do or when I desperately need to know when someone’s birthday is. There is, however one aspect of Facebook that makes me want to come back to it: highly specific, niche, private groups.
Disclaimer: All of them are Polish so unfortunately most of you won’t be able to enjoy them.
How do you even find them? The best ones are really hidden and it’s usually a friend who introduces you to them. It is hard to find them yourself. They are true gems. There are some rules that a Facebook group needs to follow to still be considered ‘cool’. Firstly, everyone needs to be in the group for the same purpose and everyone needs to narrow down their interests to this one specific topic. You leave everything not related to the specific topic outside of the group. The groups create a sense of a community based on just one highly specific aspect of people’s personalities. Secondly, the ongoing themes and jokes which can only be understood and fully appreciated by those who have been there for a longer time. There probably is more to it but those are the ones I find very important. Without further ado let me introduce you to some of my favorites.
First one’s name roughly translates to ‘How’s it going to be in propaganda- Polish media section‘. This one deals with the most serious topic out of the ones I am going to introduce but in a very trivial way. People go there to appreciate the sheer absurdity of far-right Polish media, in particular the manipulative headings of news articles and TV news reports. I believe it to be not only a great coping mechanism but also a way of enlightening people about the declining independence of public media. It is a great tool for uncovering the tactics used by media to manipulate its audiences. However, the group consists of people who are already aware and who have learned to take everything said by public media with a grain of salt. It is basically a group of people in their late teens and early twenties patting each other’s backs for being smarter than everyone else. Sometimes I wish it would be available to a wider audience, maybe it would convince people to be more skeptical but at the same time, I know that it would just create an unstoppable sh*tstorm.
My most recent discovery which usually resurfaces once a year for a season – ‘Recognize mushroom motherf*ckers‘. Found a mushroom you are not 100 percent sure of? Or maybe you just want to show off the results of your hunt? Do not worry! The community of mushroom pickers is here to support you! They are not the most reliable people when it comes to identifying mushrooms, there are usually two or three people giving completely different answers in the comments but they can appreciate your effort and praise your collection in the comments. The ongoing joke in this group deals with the never-ending hunt for the so-called liberty cap mushroom which has psychoactive properties. The admins say that if someone finds the actual liberty cap the group’s purpose will be fulfilled and it will close. The legend has it that someone found the real one but it was never correctly identified by the collective of amateur mushroom pickers. Unlike the previous group, this one does not seem to have anything more important behind it. No thoughts, just mushrooms.
My last study case is an example of a group that forms around an influencer. Facebook fan groups used to be very popular among influencers. The platforms used for interactions of specific fanbases start to change. Youtubers, TikTokers, etc. started to use different platforms such as Discord or Reddit. The group I cover in this paragraph is called ‘Biedanizm – poverty support section‘*. The group revolved around an Instagrammer whose content consisted of cheap vegan meal ideas. What started as a private Instagram account for people who strictly knew her Biedanizm became a recognizable ‘brand’ within the Polish vegan community. She wrote a book and collaborates with for example Lidl, reviewing their plant-based products for her followers. Her Facebook group started to grow without her interference, she does not post there as often as she used to anymore. The community of this group is very welcoming and helpful because everyone has the same goal: going vegan on a budget. Usually, I am more of an observer than a participant but when I was struggling with finding inspiration for my meals the community of the group quickly provided me with 50 different recipes to try out. There is no guilt-tripping and no judgment from other members, overall a very wholesome group.
*The name Biedanizm is a clever word play and a merging of words ‘bieda’ (poverty) and weganizm (veganism).