An era of more meaningful communication could be nearing as Australia's "berserk" devotion to Facebook wanes, veteran social researcher Hugh Mackay suggests.
Responding to new research showing weariness with the social networking behemoth, Professor Mackay said a degree of "pulling back" is to be expected after such meteoric take-up.
"We went for Facebook with our ears pinned back, as Australians often do, so it was inevitable there would be some sort of pulling back," said Mr Mackay, professor of Social Science at the University of Wollongong's Institute for Innovation in Business and Social Research.
"[Facebook] will find its new level over the next, say, 10 years, as a social medium, without it being how people try to communicate.
"I think it's inevitable that we're going to rediscover the joys of face-to-face communication."
An emerging dissatisfaction with Facebook was recorded in the six-monthly Ipsos Mackay report, the long-running social trend survey that was founded by Professor Mackay in 1979 but now operates without his involvement.
The report tapped into attitudes, not quantitative data such as Nielsen figures, which show the Australian Facebook audience remains relatively steady at 11.48 million visitors in September last year, compared with 11.26 million in August this year.
The Ipsos Mackay Report respondents complained Facebook promoted a culture of "narcissism and self-absorption" .
Users complained about being on the receiving end of a "time-consuming and tiring" stream of updates and trivial, repetitive information.
Professor Mackay believes Facebook has thrived because it arrived towards the end of a turbulent time marked by economic upheaval, newly raised divorce rates and shrinking households, technological revolution, and concern over international terrorism and global warming.
"Our response to all of that in the early years of the 20th century was really to try and insulate ourselves from it by becoming very self-absorbed," he said.
"We racked up record levels of personal debt ... it was the time we got heavily into home renovations and cosmetic surgery.
"The technology we take up with enormous enthusiasm is always the technology that meshes with where our heads are at. [Facebook] fed very much into the Brand Me phenomenon - people feeling as though it's a contest and that they're out there like a brand, projecting themselves ... in an entirely positive way. It's a kind of bragging medium."
Professor Mackay cites a recent willingness to save money rather than spend as a possible indicator of a "sobering up" since then.
He said this could re-awaken the "herd mentality", prompting new emphasis on community book clubs and discussion groups complete with facial expression, tone, gestures and other elements that "are a rich source of meaning".