Thursday, February 14, 2013

Facebook is getting old, right before my aging eyes

The other day, I asked two of my kids--aged twelve and fifteen--if they had seen the picture I had posted on their Facebook walls. Both said no, they hadn't seen it. And I was a bit taken back. "Really?" was my response to each (I asked them this question separately, at different moments). Both answered my incredulity in much the same way, with something like "Dad, we don't check Facebook every day." Wait, what?

Just for a point of information, here is the picture I shared with them:

I shared it with them because my daughter--the fifteen year old--enjoys the My Little Pony show on occasion, while my son likes the Chuck Norris stuff that is so rampant on the internet. But let's get back to the idea that they don't check their Facebook page every day.

This really caught me by surprise. Both have computers, both have iPhones, and they use these devices every day, no doubt about it. How could they not check Facebook every day? Indeed, how could they not be checking it multiple times every day? I do...

And that got me to thinking. I assumed parallel activity to mine was taking place on Facebook among people like my kids, along with college-age people and young adults (for the record, I am 47). I assumed that many people in such age groups were doing what I did, keeping up with friends, sharing quips and funny pictures, and so on.

Apparently not.

Let's go to the data. A study compiled by Pingdom and released in August of 2012 breaks down ages--and genders--for some twenty four popular social media sites. According to this study, Facebook has the third highest average age at 40.5, surpassed only by Yelp and LinkedIn (which is not surprising in the least; I'm sure the LinkedIn folks are thrilled with this).

If you're wondering what sites my kids do frequent every day, those would be Twitter (for the oldest) and YouTube (for the twelve year old). Really, my teen-aged daughter is on Twitter constantly. I tweet links to my blog posts, but spend little time there otherwise (it moves too fast for me). And this is consistent with the study, as well. Twitter (YouTube was not included) has an average age of 37.3, much removed from the sites with the highest average ages.

But more importantly, Twitter is getting younger, while Facebook is getting older, as the study notes (my boldface):
Compared to a previous survey we did 2.5 years ago, the age of the average Facebook user has gone up two years, while the age of the average Twitter user has gone down two years. In other words, Twitter’s user base is getting younger, while Facebook’s is getting older.
And the more I think about it, the more I realize how true this is. Facebook has largely evolved (or devolved, if compared to its original conception) into a platform for sharing silliness and seriousness. And I have to say that I find a great deal of that silliness quite annoying, despite the fact that it's coming from people in my age range.

For instance, there are all of those shared pictures of mundane commercial products from the past, captioned with "Like if you remember what this is." Any appeal things like that have is going to be predominantly with older users, as a matter of course. And frankly, I'm getting sick of seeing pictures of Mr. Bubble and Tinker Toys on my Facebook feed.

Then there are the serious shares. And I don't mean current events or news articles, I mean the social and political propaganda that once again ask viewers to "Like this if you agree," along with the myriad of causes that appear to be coming from people with too much time on their hands (which of course could apply to me, I readily concede).

There's also the sharing of family pictures--which I think is one of the best features of Facebook, actually--and the activities of one's kids and grandkids. That's definitely a middle-aged thing, as are the above activities. Indeed, a breakdown of users by age group tells the tale:

Note the 45-54 year old bar (the yellow one) and 35-44 year old bar (the dark green one). Facebook has the largest percentage of the 45-54 age group of any site in the survey. It's even larger than LinkedIn's. In contrast, Facebook's share of the 35-44 age group is comparatively small, as is also the case in the next four lower age groups.

Facebook will turn ten years old next year; it's early appeal was to young adults and college students, but not so anymore. Even younger users--like my kids--are picking up on that trend and beginning to rapidly shirk off Facebook, in favor of other sites. And in the midst of this sea change, Facebook is trying to monetize itself, to become a money-making proposition. None of this bodes well for the company's future, in my opinion.

But I'll keep plugging along there, for now. I just need to accept that being on Facebook doesn't make me hip or cool, but exactly the opposite. It makes me old. Oh, and more than likely female.

Cheers, all.


  1. "Like" if you remember when Facebook was cool.

  2. Well played, Carol. Well played. You've retained your looks AND your wits. ;)

  3. I spend too much time on Facebook. Absolutely. But the computer is on, and I am here, and there is not enough work to keep me occupied. I like to have a cup of coffee and THINK. So, I like your Ponds.

    I think it salient, and too true, that successive generations have shorter and shorter attention spans. Sometimes I find it hard to complete a delicate thought when the selected audience has the attention span of a seriously wounded nematode.

    Or, in something economical enough to text, Twitter attracts Twits.

    I think it is a consequence of a culture that increasingly appreciates celebrity, sparkle, over depth. How they will the hold on to the deeper concepts, those tastes acquired only with and over time, I do not see.

    Morbidly yours,


  4. Bring back Usenet Groups, eh Roy? :)