We’ve been talking a lot about whether or not social media is the way to go for our firm. By the fact that I have a blog (and the fact that if you’re reading this, you’ve probably found out about it through the link I put on Twitter), you can guess my stance on whether or not we should do it (hint: it’s yes. Duh.). There’s been a lot of resistance from folks who aren’t familiar with things like blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc. These people know that these things are part of the amorphous yet trendy “social media movement”, but they don’t really get what’s behind them and don’t really use them. These (typically over 50) folks are contributing to statistics that show a huge age divide in the use of Facebook. And from my vantage point, they’re holding up the whole process and making everything so difficult.
So what’s the deal? Different people have different theories, but I’m here’s an alternative perspective for you.
Gen Y grew up with computers at their fingertips. As social media spawned more social media, there was always a place to go to make a statement and share info, be it news or gossip. For folks like me who grew up using an online diary like a Livejournal or a Xanga, we were blogging (even if it was in a mediocre form of the medium in which I vented all of my teenage angst – man that was lame…) before we even knew what the term meant! When Facebook evolved, it wasn’t difficult for us to pick it up and use it to connect with our high school and college friends and later people from our childhoods or from our jobs because we were used to it. When we want to connect with someone, we do it. When we see someone updated their status, we don’t care if we haven’t spoken in months, we comment on it. We share with the world whatever we want, if only just to talk about ourselves, again and again and again (have I mentioned this is my blog and I’ll say whatever I want? Oh, just checking…). We’re honest to a fault and we’re not shy about saying what’s on our mind.
But Baby Boomers (and some shy Gen Xers) aren’t really comfortable with that. They’re not as willing to share things with the whole world because that’s not how they were raised. There’s no “here’s my two cents” from BBs – if it’s important, they’ll speak up, but if it’s not, they’ll keep it to themselves and move on, plain and simple. As one Baby Boomer said to me today, “If you had something negative to say, you were told to shut up”. And that’s because there was nowhere else to turn, no online portal to go to. It was keep your chin down and do what you’re told to do or get out. So now, when there are a million channels to use, they’re not only overwhelmed from not being familiar with all of the options, but they’re conflicted between branching out and trying something new (and BBs aren’t really known for their willingness to play around with technology) and their reticence to rock the boat.
You can start to see it from their point of view, eh?