Boomers Getting Social

facebook neonWatching the flying thumbs of teens and 20-somethings as they text their brains out on tiny smart phone keyboards, it would be easy to assume that these whippersnappers (time to revive that expression, don’t you think?) are at the leading edge of social networking.

Easy to assume, but wrong. It turns out that boomers are much more likely to use social networking tools in the workplace. Anecdotally, you can see younger workers bailing on Facebook at the same time that boomers are turning to it in droves.

A Forrester Research study indicated that while Gen Y workers are using social tools, the rate is dropping. Workers age 55 and over have increased their use of social media by 79%.

A study done by iStrategyLabs in 2009 confirms the drop in high school and college users of Facebook and reported that the number of users 55 and over had increased 513% in a six-month period.

So what are all these baby boomers doing on Facebook? I have a theory to answer that one. I think many boomers joined Facebook so they could stay in touch with their children who had their own Facebook pages. But once scads of boomers joined up, their offspring decided that Facebook was no longer the cool place to be, thus abandoning their very uncool parents. Think back to when you were a teenager. Did you want to be a member of any club your parents joined?

In the meantime, boomers are using Facebook to reconnect with old classmates and friends and to find out what kind of shenanigans (need to revive that word too) the neighbors kids are up to (beer blasts and Extacy pills?). Facebook has high school tennis teamalmost become a digital reunion machine for boomers who are getting more nostalgic than ever and now have tool to feed this latest obsession. You can look up names from the past and gloat over the fact that someone who once snubbed you has been married and divorced four times, is totally bald, or has blown up big as a house.

I admit I would like to know what ever happened to X and Y that I went to school with, but the thought of joining Facebook and spending any amount of time looking backward does not appeal to me at all.

I find that looking forward and meeting new people is much more rewarding, but then I also think that my whole life’s in front of me, so I can happily go on with my Facebook-free life.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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