With all the attention on facebook these days, what with the movie and this week’s hysterical SNL skit about Mom’s being on facebook; I thought now would be a good time to talk about what my mom and I discovered this weekend.
Mom had never seen facebook and was curious. I took her through the basics and then drifted down the path of not so basics. You know, the ins and outs of semi-not-really-but-if-you-are-being-honest-with-yourself… stalking. Photo albums of friends of friends. Searching for people from your past that maybe have no clue that facebook actually has privacy settings. You know, some innocent stuff like that.
I must say, she was rather appalled. Both at how easy it was to view these things and what people will actually post about themselves. Being a very social, but equally private person, my mom could not fathom this place we call social networking.
When you put it that way, neither can I. Being one to pick and choose the digital footprint I leave, I am very sensitive to that.
But the real revelation that came out of this exercise was not about privacy, it was more about why people of her generation – for the most part – don’t feel all that compelled to join in. Sure part of it is the technology piece. Some who are more technically savvy try it out to keep up with the grandkids but soon find that is ‘so not OK, mom!’, to quote a certain college student I know. But I think more than that, it is the fact that their lives ran deep but not as wide.
Unlike my generation – where friends moved all over the country, and my kid’s generation – where they will most probably move all over the world; they lived most of their lives in the New York area. Except for a stint when dad was stationed in Panama and she joined him, they have been New Yorkers. They still have their dearest childhood friends in their lives. They went to college locally. Their friends all moved to the suburbs, mostly our side of the city. Their parents were local. They raised their kids here and stayed in my childhood home. Their real-life communities were, and still are, stronger than any online community could be for them.
The only shift has been that they all migrated either full or part time to the east coast of Florida. For some, they have reconnected down there with people from their past much like facebook. Would that be called reality imitating virtual? Hmmmm, think about it. Floridian closed-gate communities are like the facebook of the older generation.
But the most compelling reason my mom had for lack of interest in engaging in this space was this, “I want to remember the people from my past that I did not choose to keep in touch with the way they were. I want to keep them in my mind’s eye as we were then. And frankly, if I did not really connect enough with them to keep in touch in real life, why would I want to reconnect?”
And THAT is why MY mom is NOT on facebook, and does not feel like she is missing one blessed thing by not being there. (thanks for the insight mom).