July 21st, 2011 By Jack Morton
Usually, dinner table conversation consists of days at work, weekend plans, perhaps some family chatter about a cousin’s marriage, or just simply about the weather. However, this summer, my two roommates, Mom and Dad, have been bringing up social media more often at the dinner table. Whether it’s my mom asking what my friend’s facebook status is about, or my dad asking what a #hashtag means, the adults in my life are becoming more aware of how social media is shaping Gen Y, they just have a different perspective on social media as a whole.
My perspective: It’s a means of constant connection to many friends and acquaintances. Like much of Gen Y, I use Facebook to share thoughts, opinions, pictures, videos, etc. It’s a pretty accurate portrayal of my “real” self, as I express myself several times per day on the site. I also use it to stay connected to a few of my favorite brands and businesses. I personally don’t feel that Facebook is the best way for brands to communicate to their consumers, as Facebook becomes an oversaturated market of “likes” and “pages”. Overall, Facebook is how I tell others what I’m doing, where I’m at, and what I’ve done in the past.
Their perspective: Neither of them are on Facebook, yet know plenty about it. They’ve seen The Social Network and have watched interviews with Mark Zuckerburg. They think it’s great that Facebook is a place for people to connect with others, but are skeptical of how public people are on the site about their everyday lives. However, they haven’t really caught onto how business can use Facebook to interact and engage with their consumers. As far as connecting with their high school friends, they rely on email, or as of recently, maybe a few texts to catch up with one another.
My perspective: Twitter is getting better by the day as more of my friends are joining, industry folks are everywhere, celebs tweet right to their followers, and it’s a never ending feed. I use Twitter for everything from entertainment to the news. It’s my favorite source for news and current events, more so than a news site or Facebook.
Their perspective: They’ve heard of Twitter, asked if I have one, and that’s about it. They don’t understand its purpose. I tried to tell them the other night about how I knew something in the news from Twitter and they both said they’d rather come home from work and turn on the television or read the newspaper to get their news. Needless to say, I know the news before they do.
My perspective: It’s the responsible social network. This is a virtual résumé to share with peers, colleagues, classmates, etc. It’s an easy way to get connected to those in your industry for potential opportunities. It’s not exactly as fun as Facebook or Twitter, but it serves its purpose.
Their perspective: My parents generally feel the same way about the site, they are both connected, but as they both have stable careers and still keep their rolodexes on their desks, they find other ways to stay connected as well.
My perspective: It’s the new kid in town in terms of social media. Snagging an invite and spreading the word to friends will make it better and more enticing of a social media sphere. It has 10 million users in 2 weeks; it’s going to get big. I’ve “+1” plenty of posts and even had a late night hangout with a few friends across the state. It’s a mix of existing social networks and more with plenty of potential to grow.
Their perspective: “Google+, what is that?”
My parents are not computer illiterate by any means, but their view of social media is completely different than my own. However, as with many aspects in life, I think that this could be with resistance to change. Gen Y seems more welcome to change; change in scenery, change in lifestyle, change in technology. We grew up with walkmans but now run with iPods, we started with Tom on Myspace but are representing ourselves on Google+. Gen Y has malleable minds, and while older generations are beginning to share our interest in social media, I feel there will always be some divide between Gen Y and the others.