I’m not the first to write about how parents’ arrival on Facebook has driven their children elsewhere. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some other social media site overtake Facebook in popularity amongst teens and young adults . Just as Facebook did to MySpace years ago.
But for people over 25, Facebook is here to stay.
Being a teenager is about experimentation. Teens go through phases of trying on “personas” through the cliques they belong to, the way they dress, their tastes in music, TV, movies, books etc. A lot of those experiments are best forgotten, even if they form some facet of the future adult.
For example, I had the nickname “Bambi” in college when I wore my hair shaved to half an inch. I also wore Stranglers t-shirts with swear words on them. The hairstyle and the t-shirts are gone now, but the music remains in my collection.
If you’re leaving evidence of one of those experiments online, you might prefer to forget about it later. And you might also prefer others (read: parents) not to see the details along the way. Hence, the reluctance to share Facebook with your parents.
So if being a teen is about forgetting , is being an adult about remembering?
I think the attraction of Facebook to adults is the ease of remembering by staying connected. As an adult, friendships get left behind not out of embarrassment but out of practical necessity. Getting married? Your single friends might be superseded by couples. Having kids? You’ll probably hang out with other parents. Moving cities? It’s hard to keep in touch with your friends in the prior city. Changing jobs? Your old work friends will drift away.
Facebook helps keep you connected. 100 years ago, people were less mobile and had circles of friends that didn’t change much over time. Today we change so fast. But that doesn’t mean we want to divorce ourselves from the past. Facebook plays a valuable role in helping us stay connected.