Trust, Change and Social Media

Lisa writes: Last week Roger Cohen, op-ed writer for The New York Times, excoriated Baby Boomers for being the “Twitter-Bashing Bores.” In his piece his chastised the generation born after the war for the curmudgeonly practice of belittling our children’s addiction to their screens and for the social media that connects them. He reminds us that our parents despaired of us, of our music, our clothing and our mores and reminds us that “More things do not change than do.”

social media

Our irritation at our kids and their love affair with technology and social media, Cohen surmises, is just “irritation at the new” something older generations felt about younger generations for all of time. He concludes by scolding those of us who grew up without personal computers to, “Repeat after me: Thou shalt not complain about social media or judge the habits of a generation you do not understand.“

But I see this differently. I see a generation of baby boomers or at least those 45+, on fire about technology. Sure, sometimes we criticize our kids, threaten to throw out their phones if they cannot eat without texting and bemoan their ability to communicate in full sentences, but we do this while staring at our own phones, ipads, laptops….

The fastest growing demographic on Facebook are people over 45. We may have come to the party late, but we have arrived in full force. Adults are just as fascinated by the life technology has to offer and Pew research reports that “half (47 percent) of internet users aged 50-64 use social media now, an 88 percent growth from the previous year. The number of Facebook users in the U.S. aged 55 and older grew from around 1 million in early 2009 to 10 million in early 2010”

Who are we kidding? Who are these kids immersed in social media? It is us.

Those in midlife have even greater reasons to use social media including:

Web of Contacts

Those in midlife have their far-flung web of contacts. We have moved more, worked in more places and simply have a longer timeline of contacts. We have kids who are on the move, and now, or in time, there will be grandkids who may not be nearby. Keeping up with them will require social media as there is no chance they will answer the phone.

Entrepreneurial Support

We are venturing into more entrepreneurial jobs in droves. We are collaborating with people we do not know in real life and creating customers/contacts around the globe. Social media, be it LinkedIn or another platform, will define the success of these our ventures.

News Delivery

Baby boomers love their newspapers, get a group of them around a dinner table and they will wax on about the touch and feel of newsprint (which, for the record, is disgusting.) But this will change with the realization that social media networks are a funnel for the broadest possible array of news sources and the commentary of knowledgeable readers alongside.

Attitude Adjustment

And finally Cohen is right, the post-war generation that so completely rejected all that went before it, should take a long hard look at its attitudes toward our kids and their love affair with technology. The reason we did not trust anyone over 30 was because they did not trust change. In reality we have embraced all that Google, Apple, Twitter and the others have to offer and it is only our attitude that needs to remain young.

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  1. says

    Good perspective. I’ve grown annoyed with what seems like constant unfair bashing of younger generations of late, but you are right to point out that Boomers are not the Luddites this particular defender of the young purports them to be.

  2. Carpool Goddess says

    I’m on facebook and twitter more than my kids in their 20s. I’m just starting to explore instagram which seems to be the kid’s new “facebook.”

  3. says

    It’s funny–my husband and I are way deep into the rabbit hole of FB and Twitter, while my older sister (in her mid-60s) and her friends shrug it off. So even within the broad range of Boomers, there is a wide variety of buy-in to technology and social media. Thanks for speaking up for the rest of us!

  4. Helene Cohen Bludman says

    This struck a chord with me. I have three adult children who all are using social media, but I think I use it more than they do, for all the reasons mentioned above, plus, as a work-at-home writer, it is my lifeline to the real world.

  5. Jan Myhre says

    As the Nana of an only child (and I do mean only…there will be just the one) I would be lost without my Facebook account. Her mom and dad are faithful about keeping Papa and me informed of all the firsts, activities and lifetime events (loss of that first front tooth, etc.) Whine on Mr. Cohen. One wonders if you have children who live far away.