The entire premise of FB’s social business model is questionable. As we can see from its origins, FB is not much more than a gossip network that has gone global. How does that make sense?
Gossip serves its social purpose, as humans have been gossiping about their peers since communities first formed. That social purpose is to bring social pressure on individuals to conform to group norms in the interest of social solidarity and survival of the group. So again, how does a global gossip network make any sense?
Gossip has both positive and negative consequences that derive from the human instinct to scale social hierarchies as a reward to evolutionary fitness. FB has taken this instinct and emphasized its most negative consequences, which is not to connect the whole world in a benevolent community, but to establish and reinforce clear hierarchies of power: “Hey, look at me. My life is better than yours! I’m better looking, richer, more interesting (and far more fit for procreation)!”
As you point out, the sad truth is that it’s very difficult for users to break out of this degenerative spiral without feeling left out or the fear of missing out (fomo). It’s kind of like that feeling of choosing up teams in grade school and fearing at the end of the process, no one has been willing to choose you.
I’m a bit more optimistic about people though, probably more than the designers of FB. People mature and crave certain psychological rewards in life and gossip is not at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Like with mindless TV, at some point people turn away from such vacuous fare and discover what really means something to their self-actualization. Social networks that feed those needs will outlive dysfunctional models like FB. We’re creating one now at www.tukaglobal.com: Connecting the Creative.