We’ve all been there. Your mom, dad, aunt, or some other adult family member signs up for an account on social media, let’s say Facebook. They are so excited to be updated on all aspects of your life. It starts with liking every picture you post. Ok, that’s not bad. Maybe you like it because it helps your numbers.
Then come the comments. The “You look so nice here. Be good and see you at Thanksgiving. Love, Aunt Cindy.” One of my profile pictures has the following comment from my aunt.
So in case anyone wanted to know what was happening on my high school field hockey team they’d be all set.
Once liking and commenting are mastered, then comes the posts.
One of my favorite parent posts is from my roommates mom (below).
Needless to say there are many times that kids feel that their parents do not follow social media etiquette, particularly when they first sign up for an account. My point is not to criticize all parents on social media but rather to examine why there is this difference between how two generations interact on social medial.
What I think is interesting is how these posts become either rejected by the younger generation as embarrassing or embraced as funny incidences. Why are kids so embarrassed or even angry when their parents post in a less socially acceptable (by teenage standards) way? Our parents were not that upset when we didn’t know how to ride a bike or cook a meal without burning it. They were supportive and helpful throughout the learning process.
I think that one of the reasons that people can get frustrated with their older family members on social media is that parents seem to be able to use social media more for its original purpose than the younger users. They are open and honest in their posts and reveal truths about their lives that their kids deems too public. Young people are always looking to portray a picture of excellence with edited pictures and thoughtful comments. They overthink likes and comments and would never reveal that they have been “stalking” a person by liking an old picture. On the other hand, typical parents would have no problem liking the picture because it would demonstrate that they actually enjoyed the pictures, regardless of when it was originally posted.
Social media is something that we and those younger than us have grown up using. Likes, comments, notifications, and statuses are part of our everyday lives and have been through many of our most formative years. For parents and older users, this is not the case. They have a different set of standards and are less concerned with how things appear and more focuses on what they. That might be an honest post, a top-of-mind comment, or a genuine like. The key difference between the children and their parents is that the parents seem to care less and therefore are more liberal with their posting.
Whatever the outcome, we can most often agree that the intention of parents and older family members on social media is harmless. It is mostly just in an attempt to stay close and connected to each other, something our generation has seemed to forget. We so often use social media to portray this unauthentic image of ourselves and our lives that we forget the whole reason we signed up was to learn about what was actually happening in others’ lives. Maybe social media is yet another thing we can learn from our parents.
**Disclaimer** The stereotypes used in this post do not apply to parents who are also social media professors.