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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Facebook, MySpace, and Other Social Networks

I've seen several stories in the "mainstream media" lately about the social network phenomenon. They are about how older generations are using them. The writers always seem to take the approach this is a surprise. Can't say it surprises me, though.

To me, it's all about the stage of life we are in. When you are young, you have no concept of what life is about. I can remember thinking how someone who was 40 (my current age) was ancient. You think you are going to live forever and you usually look ahead to what will be instead of where you have been. Some of us keep up with our high school and college friends. More of us lose touch with each other as we get jobs, move away, and/or start our own families. It was the latter for me.

As you get older, you realize how fleeting life on Earth really is. You start thinking more and more about your legacy and the impact you have made here on Earth. It really started hitting me after my children were born. The older they get, the more I think about it.

You also think about the impact others have made on your life. You start thinking about friends, teachers, and co-workers you've known in the past. Wondering how they are doing, where they are, do they remember you, etc.

This is where social networking and the "older" generations intersect, especially people within my age group. We are technically-savvy enough and sentimental enough to take advantage of these sites. We want to know how people in our past are doing. So, we join these sites with the hope of finding people from our past.

Some people I have been trying to find have not signed up, yet. At least not on Facebook, which is the only one I have a page on. Maybe they have moved on with their lives to the point where there's no looking back. Or, more than likely, they think there's not enough time to keep up with a page or they don't understand them.

I have to admit I had no plans to join Facebook. I knew about the social networking pages but had never checked them out. Figured they were all glorified dating services. Then, a friend of ours joined one and asked my wife to join. She ended up setting up a page for both her and me. Ironically, the friend deleted hers shortly after we joined. But, we kept our pages and have really enjoyed Facebook.

We've both had friend invites where we had to ask the other if we know so-and-so. I've had invites from people I haven't thought about in years, much less talked to. I've been able to renew friendships with some people as though we had just spoken last week instead of many years ago. I've especially enjoyed the daily status reports on what is happening in people's lives every day. But, I digress.

To me, these stories are an example of how the mainstream media doesn't always "get" what goes on in the lives of ordinary people. I don't know what stage of life these reporters are in. Maybe they are young and think it's weird for us "old coots" to enjoy the same things they do. Maybe they are older and just don't understand the sites. I don't know. But, if you want them to keep scratching their heads a little, I encourage you join a site if you haven't already. They are easy to join and easy to keep up with. The way I figure it, if 92 year old Kirk Douglas can have a page, why can't you?

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