When your Aunt Cindy signs her Facebook comment… *face palm*

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.

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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.

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One of my favorite parent posts is from my roommates mom (below).

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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.

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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.

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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.

8 comments

  1. I absolutely love this blog post! I have had very similar experiences with my Dad on Facebook and him not knowing how to use it. I love when my dad thinks someone is specifically writing to him but its actually just that user’s status. You summed it up perfectly that we grew up using it while our parents and other family members may not of. In that regard, I think that is why we could easily get embarrassed or frustrated as we forget that we seem to know all the rules of social media- mostly because our generation helped to create these rules (for example only post one instagram a day).
    I also think this could be connected back to one of our first classes about if we were to do the things on social media in real life. I think parents act pretty similar online and in real life which is why sometimes we can feel embarrassed as many people, my self included, seem to have their online personality and then their offline personality.

  2. Great blog post! You raise a great point that although our generation may be embarrassed by how our parents act on social media, their posts tend to be more reflective of their true personalities. In my experience, I usually find more humor when the older generation fails to utilize the features properly rather than in the actual content they are posting.. whether it be my grandma sharing my profile picture updates on her wall or yesterday when my roommate told me all her dad’s Facebook friends were commenting on his profile picture from 3 years ago to wish him a happy birthday. While the way they use social media is funny, I think their generation can teach us how to express ourselves more authentically on Facebook and we in turn can help show them what the features are really meant for!

  3. Awesome and very true blog post. Even worse than parents, my grandma is on Facebook and to add insult to injury, english is her second language — it certainly makes for entertaining comments and statuses. That said, I have to give these older generations props for not only staying up to date, but for probably using these platforms more effectively than we do. For instance, on Facebook and Instagram, older generations use it more classically; however, I believe millennial use twitter in the most inefficient manner. Twitter is an amazing tool to keep up with news and follow people; however, many are too focused on following friends that they can’t keep up with their feeds of people’s random thoughts. Overall awesome post thank you!

  4. Such a funny post! Very interesting how you point out that parents use Facebook for it’s original use. I think that’s partly due to the fact that social media evolves so quickly, and standards of what is acceptable change all the time. Teenagers tend to have more “friends” than adults, so we have a larger pool of people to sense trends from. When others stop posting personal statuses, so will we. I think there’s also the problem of functional fixedness–which is when people can only see one use for a product. My dad is an example of this: he doesn’t have a Facebook, but he perceives its only use as oversharing every detail of what you eat for lunch and which movies you see. With each new update, teenagers overcome this functional fixedness, but not really adults.

  5. Nice disclaimer! I hate to tell you this, but the problem doesn’t go away when you grow up. My mother still regularly embarrasses me on Facebook, and now its in front of every friend I have ever had. Personally, I’m looking forward to inflicting the same embarrassment on my kids, its one of the best parts of being a parent! Haha.

  6. Great post, Molly! I am now one of the fortunate ones who have parents that are so technologically inept that they still haven’t joined facebook. It’s truly an awesome perk and it makes me laugh that much harder when I come across my friends’ parents posting embarrassing stuff on their facebooks.

  7. Very amusing post! I think when you are a late-adopter to a platform, it is very easy to underestimate the reach of every post and comment. My parents haven’t found their way onto Facebook yet (but I live in fear). They do use Whatsapp and my father has a particular fondness of emojis (which can be a little irritating). I particularly enjoyed the example of a father using Facebook as a search engine!

  8. Great post. I can definitely relate to a lot of the cringeworthy seeming posts from parents or uncles/aunts and grandparents. I think you hit the nail on the head though when you pointed out that they are the ones using the platform as it was really meant to be used. This past week my family group text was telling my dad to remove a post because they thought it was embarrassing.

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