The Generation Clash on Facebook

Jim Buie asks:

I received a query from CBS News technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg about "the older generation" on Facebook. Do you have a story to share about your experiences on Facebook, particularly in relation to teens, many of whom call us over-40s "the creepies"? Or do you know teens or twenty-somethings willing to say how they feel about parents and geezers coming online and inspecting their Facebook profiles? CBS News will sort through the responses and may seek to interview some of the respondents. Post your responses at the link below:

http://www.togetherwhileapart.com

I have been on Facebook practically from the beginning as I am interested in social networks and the psychology and sociology of online behavior (and I have posted many times about it). During that time I went through three entire large sets of "friends". The first were NCSU students - the set I used for this little study.

The second set were people with Yugoslav names - this showed me that the kids are OK! While their parents were killing each other over symbols, the kids, Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Macedonians, etc., were friending each other, joining various Yugo-nostalgic groups (Balasevic is the best, Bijelo Dugmo is the best band ever, I miss chocolate bananas, etc.).

Now, most of my Facebook friends are bloggers, scientists, people I met at conferences, PLoS employees, etc. And since a couple of days ago - my wife! No more friending cute chicks any more ;-)

This also means that I do not even see the "other Facebook", i.e., what the current college students are doing and talking about. I have isolated myself inside the "new Facebook", i.e., the bunch of us old "creepies".

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OK, I'm not on Facebook, so I don't know the lingo, but "the creepies" sounds like the sort of thing old people imagine young people say. As reported by America's Finest News Source,

"Dad and I were watching the NBA playoffs Saturday," 14-year-old son Dylan said. "Someone missed a pass, and he goes, 'Sometimes, I get the feeling that some of these basketball players are smoking the rock.' Then, a few days later, he sits down on my bed and asks me if I'd ever been 'pressured into attending a raver party, where kids dance and take party drugs like truck driver, co-pilot, Georgia home boy, and doctor.' It's like he picked up a health textbook or something. Or maybe he found some weird talking-to-your-kids-about-drugs web site."

"Creepies" is the actual term kids use to refer to the over-35y folks on Facebook.

I've never used the term, but it sounds about right. There's absolutely no way I'm going to friend any parent or professor - any disclosure of my drunken activities needs context, which facebook doesn't provide.

By Aaron Lemur Mintz (not verified) on 25 Oct 2007 #permalink

Oh good, it's 35. I was worried my turning 30 next year would automatically make me a 'creepy'. Like turning into a pumpkin at midnight or something...

Different people quote different age cut-offs: 30, 35 or 40. I chose the middle value.

No, it's definitely 30! I tutored kids for 2 1/2 years before going back to school, and a few of my high school tutorees friended me. It's nothing weird. They're either 17 or 18, and we just keep in touch on how college applications are going, basically.

I just turned 27, and one of them wished me happy birthday. I said, "Yeah, I'm officially an old geezer now that I'm in my late 20s." She responded, "Oh don't worry, it's really 30 when you become an old fogey." Haha. I heard a lot of that among the kids when I was tutoring.

Actually, for Facebook in particular, I think even 25 makes you old -- it's mostly dominated by high school and college students.

30 makes sense: your fluid IQ starts declining around then, your personality traits stay pretty constant after then, it's past the age at which the average person gets married and has kids, your physical attractiveness starts to plummet, and so on.