Here's a frequent cry around my office: "My Mom just joined Facebook! Hell has frozen over."
Hell has frozen over a dozen times this year, according to my colleagues. I totally understand. My parents are on Facebook, too.
I remember when Facebook was limited to just colleges. We call those "The good ol' days." You know those grandparent stories that go, "When I was your age..."? My version will be, "When I was your age, Facebook was limited to college students and debauchery. Those were simpler times."
They really were. People could post terrible photos of you and you didn't have to worry about your boss seeing them. You could talk shit on your friends' walls without fearing that their parents would read it.
That's all changed. According to Facebook, the fastest growing demographic is 35 years old and older. Media have been freaking out over studying showing that teens don't flood Facebook or Twitter. Teens only account for 9 percent of Facebook users and 11 percent of Twitter users, according to TechCrunch article on the subject. Age demographics more closely mirror society than you'd think.
It's no wonder, really. The same TechCrunch article reported a survey of 10,000 U.S. teens and found that those who don't use Twitter either "Don't have anything to say" or "Don't feel safe." Let's read between the lines:
Teens "Don't have anything to say" [to their parents].
Teens "Don't feel safe [from their parents].
Teens have plenty to say. Check the text messaging statistics. Sure, some teens don't feel safe from Internet predators, and that's unfortunately valid, but they also don't feel their privacy is safe from their parents. No, not when every PTA meeting agenda starts with, "Sign up for Facebook to track your kids."
Hey, I'm not blaming parents either. I'd do the same thing. I have a Facebook page for my cat for crying out loud. But to think that teens want to be on social networks where their parents are? Yeah, right. Instead, they've found refuge and privacy on their phones. Again, check the text messaging statistics.
Facebook ushered in Twitter, and Twitter is totally dominated by adults, too. Why? Teens didn't see anymore reason (privacy) to justify spending time there. The technology may be cool, but broadcasting to your family is not. Back to text messaging.
Enough about teens. What about 20-somethings... the original Facebook generation... my generation? Well, it's been a painful transition. Teens today can assume their parents are or will be on Facebook. We were afforded the luxury of privacy at first. We had a closed club, and our .edu email addresses were our secret passwords to get in. Even after Facebook opened itself up to the world, we were too caught up in updating our profiles to notice, and Mom and Dad signed on to see all of those embarrassing wall posts and unflattering photos.
What can you do, not accept your Mom's friend request? No, we simply, reluctantly bleached our profiles.
By last count, I have one grandparent, all three uncles and one aunt on my Dad's side and one aunt on my Mom's side on Facebook. Of course, my siblings and cousins of age are on Facebook, too. I'd say three-quarters of my extended family are on Facebook. That's a conservative guess.
It's been great keeping more connected and seeing their updates, but I can't help but miss the good ol' days. Here's The Onion's take on families and Facebook... like oil and water.