From Scott Thompson. Follow Scott on Twitter @foureyedblond or email him at thompson[AT]@borderstan.com.
I knew Facebook had entered a new era the moment Dancing With the Stars appeared on my newsfeed.
Said event took place Tuesday, May 22, at approximately 11:00 pm EST.
Up until that hour, I had been casually aware of a cultural shift taking place on Facebook. It began when wedding albums started to replace sorority formal pictures, and became quite apparent the first time a terrifying 3D ultrasound image parachuted from outer space on to my newsfeed.
However, on Tuesday evening, after discovering the following conversation between my mother and her Bunco friends, I realized that Facebook had undergone not only a cultural shift – but a permanent generational one.
BUNCO FRIEND 1: Watching Dancing finale. Derrick and Maria were robbed. They should have been in the finals. My vote is for Kathryn. (Tuesday near Louisville, KY via mobile)
BUNCO FRIEND 2 : Didn’t see that one coming – of the 3 I think Kathryn was the best.
MY MOTHER: They all were great but I agree that Kathryn was the best. But boy am I ever going to miss watching William shake his bum!!!!
BUNCO FRIEND 1: Those football players always have a huge fan base. He was good but she was awesome. Oh well… next year.
BUNCO FRIEND 2: Oh I’m right there with you. He was nice to watch ;p
BUNCO FRIEND 1: Amen. I think Bruno is going to miss him too! ;0)
BUNCO FRIEND 3: Haha! I love this! I loved Maria and Kathryn! Great season!
Like most mid-to-late twentysomethings, I do not watch Dancing with the Stars. I have no idea who Derrick and Maria are, and I will likely have permanent emotional scars from reading one… two… three… four exclamation marks after my married mother’s public use of the word “bum.” However, Tuesday night’s conversation did provide me with valuable insight into the future of Facebook — or, as many in my generation would say, its end.
Not more than seven years ago, The Facebook (as it was called) was an innocuous website designed solely for use on college campuses. Right from the start, it introduced new words and phrases into my generation’s social lexicon — “friend request,” “profile picture,” “poke.” Our parents had nary an idea what those phrases meant when they came up during the 2004 Thanksgiving dinner conversation — and we relished that exclusivity.
Today, Facebook is a $100 billion dollar, publicly traded company with more than 600 million registered users around the world. News outlets use it to pump out stories. Companies use it to sell clothing. Above all, “others” use it – other generations, both younger and older.
According to recent statistics, 46.4% of Facebook users are under the age of 25 and 27.5% are over the age of 35. As a result, the words “Prom” and “orthodontist“ now have prime real estate in newsfeeds. Boozy 60th birthday photos will soon eclipse boozy 30th birthday photos. Most shocking, Stein Mart — the mythical land our mothers used to frequent “because you wouldn’t be-LIEVE the brands you can find in there” — has, at last count, 269,257 Facebook followers.
It’s the end of an era.
As a frequent Facebook user, I can in no way criticize the uncharted joys and addictions others generations discover when they register for Facebook — nor do I encourage a Facebook purge of anyone too young or too old to quote Saved By the Bell. But I do lament for the good old days when Facebook was the unique property of my generation — of our time — of our zeitgeist.
I feel the same way I imagine my parents would feel if I ran on stage at a Doobie Brothers concert within minutes of their arrival, grabbed the mic, and announced to the world, “LIKE! It looks like you and Mom are having fun! Call me tomorrow. Love, Scott.”
Yes, the Doobie Brothers are open for all to enjoy. But please remember — and respect — who discovered them first.