I belong to a cohort–the 40-somethings–that has a peculiar relationship with Facebook. It is a cohort that is entirely comfortable with computers, but which also has a memory of the courtesies and languor of the pre-computer age. We read a lot online, but also have newspapers delivered to our homes. We write e-mail as if we were born with the skill to do so, yet we wrote letters by hand until we were well into our 30s.
We don’t take Facebook for granted the way our children do, with their unthinking postings on each others’ walls, their casual use of the F-word on what is effectively a quasi-public forum, their postings of their own photographs in varying states of sobriety and decency. Facebook is a forum that we wish we’d had when we were much younger; so now that we have it in our 40s, we treat it with a certain self-conscious formality, a calibrated theatricality.
When we update our status, we don’t just toss off the update with a casual hack-hack-hack of the keyboard; we think before we type, pondering the effect of the status update on its potential readers, and pondering, also, its impact on our image. This is solipsistic, yes; but it is also consciously gregarious–or, better, consciously non-misanthropic.
This is so true! I have a few facebook friends in their teens and oh, the things they share!
@david: looks like it’s an effective way for you to keep in touch with your family!
I left your over 40’s cohort half my life ago as I am now in the over 80’s cohort. However I have a daughter and son-in-law in the over forties and two granddaughters in their teens. We are a very close family and I can see the different attitudes towards social sites on the web. The eldest granddaughter puts everything on Facebook and has hundreds of friends to communicate with. Her father is in IT and is extremely strict over identity theft – they shred everything!! He also monitors their Facebook entries, but I am not sure that he catches everything. I am on Face book but am totally relaxed about my entries. I try not to do things which I know my son-in-law wouldn’t like because I depend on his help when technical things go wrong for me. He also does not like to see me spending money when he can often get the same things for me cheaper or even free. I wonder why!!!