Young adults get a bad rap. They’re often the go-to when it comes to an age group that post the most inappropriate and pointless content on social media. But they certainly aren’t the only ones and they may not even be the worst offenders.
That title belongs to grandma who thinks she needs to post her name on your Facebook timeline everyday. Or perhaps it’s dear old Uncle Rob who feels the need to share every single picture he sees of a motorcycle or police chase. It could even be dad who often confuses the comment box for a Google search bar, leaving many to just scratch their head.
Either way, everyone knows someone like this. And chances are, they’re not young adults.
Other people can still make the case that teens are by far the worst offenders, with Twitter rants of why all stop lights hate them or how much the third period biology teacher looks like Ms. Frizzle. But when it comes to Mark Zuckerberg’s $46.8 billion baby, it’s the middle to older generation that rules the roost.
Facebook ironically has become more uncool as it has grown in popularity. Five or six years ago, when it was the exclusive hang out spot for college and high schoolers, was the place to be. But then the unthinkable happened: mom and dad joined. What’s worse is that Facebook is simple enough that someone with an average know-how of technology can figure it out, and even explain it to others.
Que the grandma and grandpa movement.
In a study by the PEW Research Center, 60 percent of adults between the ages of 50 and 64 were on Facebook, and 45 percent of 65 year-olds and older were registered as of 2013. The following year, the study found that 50 to 64 year-olds had risen to 63 percent and a whopping 56 percent of 65 year and older adults were now on Facebook, the largest increase among any other demographic.
As if it wasn’t already bad enough that mom and dad were sending you friend requests, now you’ve got the grandparents calling you, yes-with a real phone, asking you how to use Facebook and what it means to “poke” someone.
It just becomes too much to bear.
In the blink of an eye, Facebook turned into a place where your every post, picture and comment deserved a response from every member of your family. Every photo of you suddenly has dozens of comments from you mom. Dad won’t stop posting do-it-yourself videos on your profile, subtly hinting that he needs your help with the roof this weekend. And no matter how many times you explain it, grandma still can’t figure out what “poking” means.
It can be humorous at times, but its more annoying than anything else. It’s what has led the popularization of Twitter, Instagram and Reddit. Through the same study, PEW found that from 2013 to 2014, overall Twitter user increased from 18 to 23 percent, with an emphasis in the 18 to 29 year age group, jumping from 31 to 39 percent. For Instagram, overall usage rate moved from 17 to 26 percent from 2013 to 2014. In ages 18 to 29, it increased from 37 to 53 percent in one year, and 18 to 29 percent for ages 30 to 49. Older users remained steady at around 11 percent for 50 to 64 year-olds and six percent for 65 years and older.
Teens and young adults don’t want their parents, and especially their grandparents, to see everything that goes on in their lives. And they certainly don’t want them adding into the online conversation.
It all boils down to the fact that most middle age and older generation adults don’t know the “rules” of Facebook. They don’t understand that “liking” a comment or post is more than enough, and that each post from everyone in your friend group doesn’t need a personalized comment from you. They don’t get that the best way to get unfriended is to share pictures with uplifting or motivational sayings. And if grandpa can’t even figure out how to open up his browser, should he really be responsible for anything more than computer solitaire?
Older adults always criticize the younger generation for “living” on Facebook and having to post every five minutes. Nowadays, most Facebook users aged 16 to 25 probably just use it as a tool to stalk friends and see what’s current. It’s the 36-year-old mom with a husband and three adorable little girls that keeps the Facebook train running with pictures of her girls and sharing posts with headlines such as “17 Reasons Why Being A Mom Is The Best Job”.
It needs to stop. Like everything, Facebook has rules of interaction and an unspoken code of conduct, and most users have proven they don’t get these rules. It may be the age difference. It may be the way older adults view Facebook. Or it could be they just don’t get it. Either way, here’s hoping they don’t jump ship to Twitter. Imagine having to explain what a hashtag means at Thanksgiving.