Since I previously discussed the humble beginnings of Facebook here, I would like to take this chance to reach out to the newest members of Facebook…anyone old enough to have listened to the Monkees on vinyl with rapture.
When Facebook was first expanded beyond the college-aged world, most adults seemed skeptical about joining. After all, very few of their adult friends or colleagues had joined at that point.
But all that has since changed.
Thanks to the decline in voice-to-voice contact through text messaging and social media, more and more adults over the age of forty are reaching out to old and new friends via Facebook.
Generation Y, welcome to a brand new world—where your creepy uncle, sweet Grandma, and the cousin you barely know all want to be your virtual friend.
But coming this late to the Facebook game does has its disadvantages. There is unwritten Facebook activity etiquette that someone new to F.B.-ing just might not realize.
In that spirit, I have outlined below some common mistakes people over forty make via social media, specifically Facebook:
1. The Joint Account
Facebook is not banking. There is no “ours” amongst profiles. Not even conjoined twins Brittany and Abby Hensel have a joint Facebook account, and they share a uterus. Do you share a uterus with your spouse for more than procreative purposes?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
So, what really gives you the right to have a joint Facebook account?
2. Inappropriate Poking
“Poking” is not just a friendly way of saying hi. It is a way of expressing sexual interest. So think twice before poking your son or nephew again, mom-trying-to-be-cool.
3. The Unrelated Picture Comment
Sometimes your (grand)son or (grand)daughter will be tagged in a picture by another person you don’t know. This is not an opportunity to thank said unknown person for the “great pic” and begin a direct conversation with your loved one.
Picture comments should relate directly to the picture or moment/evening captured. The person that posted the original picture doesn’t care that Aunt Sue says hi to Little Tommy, and frankly wants to stop receiving email updates alerting him/her to your family Facebook pow-wow.
4. Parenting through Facebook
There is a reason that a recent AOL study found that 30% of teenagers wish they could “defriend” their own parents on Facebook. Simply put, it’s because you’re embarrassing them.
Here’s some things to avoid:
- Do not respond to your child’s current status of “fucking shitty day today” with “Billy! Language! I raised you better than that!”
(Author’s note: Before you scoff and think no parent would ever do this, I actually took this almost verbatim from a 26 year-old friend’s profile page. See, teenagers, your parents will never actually change. But eventually you will find it endearing, rather than embarrassing).
- Do not scold your college-aged relative for their party pictures. Honestly, you opened Pandora’s Box by “friending” them in the first place. Just be grateful that you can even still see their photos, because soon they will learn about privacy settings and make it where you can’t.
5. Friending Your (Grand)Children’s Friends
I know, I know.
You were their T-ball coach, or maybe they spent the night at your house every weekend as a child (and you have the grocery bills to prove it, too). You see little Amy or little Mike pop up on your kid’s Facebook and you suddenly want to reminisce. You genuinely care and/or are morbidly curious about how their lives are turning out.
My advise to you: wait.
Your kid’s friend will either A) friend you, relieving the potential awkwardness or B) Turn 24 and have to make his/her profile so sanitary that he/she will no longer have to worry about shaming themselves in front of a parental figure.
Either way you have now gained a virtual friend.
And really, can there be any stronger bond?
To add more tips or advice for Baby Boomers new to Facebook check out our comments section below.