I noticed something recently that makes me feel old…and I realize that nothing makes you seem old more than writing about how you feel old. That was a very redundant sentence, so I’m going to get to the point here.
I feel out of touch in how I use social media. At 23, this is weird. I’m trying to figure out how to use these apps and sites correctly. I update my Facebook status maybe once every few days. I have never used Twitter. I tried Instagram but never really got into it and then deleted it. I have Snapchat installed on my phone, but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with it. Every couple of days, I send a picture of what I’m eating that day or the movie I’m watching, and people seem to enjoy that.
Now, I’m not saying I’m the typical example of my generation. Plenty of my peers use these sites and apps the way I feel they are supposed to be used–they share pictures or information about their jobs, what they’re doing in their lives, they share exciting news, etc. I’m not tech-savvy and don’t pretend to be, but I’m pretty sure that sort of use is what these sites are for.
But I’ve noticed something weird about the younger kids. By “younger kids”, I’m talking about the current high school and early college students. I’m “friends” or “following” (or whatever other thing it’s called on the different apps) a lot of them because that’s the age of my younger brothers (one in high school and one in college right now). They didn’t have the awkward transition time my peers had. Facebook was popular when they started high school. They probably never used Myspace. And their first phones were probably smartphones. So they’re way better at these social media sites than I am. And they use them differently.
Yes, they use it for the aforementioned uses. They share new jobs, pictures of their dinner, wedding or baby news (I’m from the Midwest, it’s exciting and celebrated to be pregnant at 18 in my town for some reason). But they don’t have the barrier that I feel my age does. They share good news, and they share bad. Whether it seems appropriate or not.
Let me share an example. Someone like me or my friends will have their “real life”, and their filtered “public life”. They’ll go on Facebook or Snapchat and show the exciting highlight reel of their day. It’s not that their “public life” is untrue or a lie, it’s just showing the parts that they feel their friends/followers/etc. want to know.
For an example of the younger age, I’ll share actual examples from one of my brothers’ friends. The middle brother went to homecoming with this girl and I got to know her a bit from meeting her a few times. We’re friends on Snapchat for some reason. She’ll share everything. She wakes up? “Bedhead snap!” Her stomach hurts? We get a snap of her lying in bed looking miserable. These past few days, I keep getting snaps that tell a sad story of her mother going to the hospital and then passing away.
And that’s what I don’t understand. I am her high school homecoming date’s older sister whom she’s met maybe 3-4 times total, and that was a few years ago. Why am I included in this saga? I mean, of course I care about her sadness. I never met her mother, but she’s a human being and was most likely a good person. But I just absolutely cannot understand where it entered her brain that when her mom woke her up in the middle of the night to go to the hospital, she needed to “snap” this information to her dozens of Snapchat “friends”. Or why she felt we needed updates every few hours. My husband was looking over my shoulder when I got a snap of her looking sad, with the message that her mother had just passed. Hubby asked who that was, thinking it was a relative or friend of mine who had passed…and I didn’t even remember the girl’s real name.
Can someone explain this to me? I don’t want to sound rude. I just can’t grasp it. When I want to share something in my life with my extended friends and acquaintances, I go through a mental process. “Who would care about this (haircut, relationship change, dinner, cool item I bought)? My relatives? No, not really…oh, my friends from college probably would. Alright, so I’ll share it on Facebook!”
But that doesn’t happen with this younger generation. This girl I’ve been talking about is not the only example. I un-followed (un-friended?) several of them just because I got bored of ten “snaps” an hour about the TV shows they were watching, how they had a headache, they were tired, their boyfriend dumped them…
Is there a barrier anymore? Or is your public life just your entire life now?
I’m honestly super curious about this. I feel like we’re in a giant shift in society now where there’s no public versus private info anymore. Everyone knows and shares every detail of their lives. And I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I’m enjoying watching it change.
Let me know how you feel about this! Am I completely wrong? Or have you noticed this too?