Oldies kick the young off Facebook? We’ve got to hang out somewhere
There are many other and better reasons to dislike the social media platform
Another day, another report about how young people are turning away from Facebook. The report, by analysts at Kantar Media for the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University, says that, following investigations such as those in this newspaper, young people feel Facebook is polluted with “fake news”, dodgy algorithms and assaults on democracy, leading them to prefer the likes of WhatsApp (also owned by Facebook).
All valid points – many older people distrust Facebook for the same reasons. Then there’s the other big reason why younger people are rejecting Facebook, namely, older people. Asked about the site, young people used terms such as “uncool uncle”, “midlife crisis”, “egocentric” and “sociopath”. Nor do they mean central-casting Old People, clicking confusedly, sucking Nuttall’s Mintoes. They mean me and probably you too.
Indeed, for yoof, the mere presence of old people seems to be enough to turn Facebook into a social media wasteland. First, perhaps young people could consider being more generous and realise that we require somewhere to stick up our youthful “prettier” snaps in a haze of pathetic nostalgic neediness. Some of us also need to put up recent photos and hear outright lies about how we “haven’t changed!” It’s pitiful, but harmless. As are the occasional ranting posts: Trump, Brexit, Corbyn, goth jokes, general undignified, middle-aged time-wasting, usually culminating in an engulfing nuclear mushroom cloud of self-disgust and the classic “I’m leaving Facebook (feel free to talk me out of it)” post.
So a part of me understands the youthful scorn. However, another part of me wonders, why is this particular brand of social media-themed ageism acceptable? Moreover, for many Facebook users, isn’t it the very opposite of “sociopathic” – signifying a very human desire to join in?
Then there’s the other question – how are young people even aware of older people being annoying? While I don’t know anything about the likes of Twitter, Instagram or WhatsApp, one feature of Facebook is that, generally, you’re not interacting with each other unless you want to.
And while this has its own hazards, not least in terms of echo chambers, it also means that, even if I wanted to, I’d find it quite difficult to stink up Facebook for young people, with tragic old photos of young-me with crimped hair. Basically, I don’t see unknown “Young People!” on Facebook; I’m pretty sure they don’t see me either and I presume that’s the case for most users. So where’s all the derision/aversion coming from?
If the serious issues with Facebook have driven youth away, then that’s understandable. If it’s simple brand fatigue regarding the ageing Facebook concept, then fair enough. However, perhaps the next time someone asks a young person why they’re off Facebook, perhaps they could refrain from trashing the “old people” they probably never actually see. I mean, yoof, talk about being uncool.
Who are you calling old?