Dear Baby Boomers,
During a rowdy holiday time family dinner this year, a generational divide was made visible. A relative my parents' age asked: so I get Facebook, but I don't really get Twitter? Am I missing anything by not being on it and all the other ones?
I understood perfectly what he was asking. Years ago, people like him tried to avoid the Facebook craze and dismiss it as something he didn't have time for, and for a while, he refused to care about whatever it was. But gradually, so many friends, so many people his age and even older joined, that it seemed like the average middle class parent was missing out on an important part of life if he didn't use Facebook. So he fiddled around with it enough to use it and understand what it was. Maybe he joined, maybe he just looked at his wife's profile. Either way, he understood where it stood in his life. It was a good way to catch up with friends and had a purpose if you got around to it and he liked being able to navigate it when his kids got married or had kids because of the pictures and heart-warming comments.
So he wanted to know, were the rest of these digital platforms that he had heard about, but especially Twitter, were they going to infect and affect his life the way Facebook had. In other words, was it inevitable that all his friends and maybe even he himself were going to be Tweeters?
After a moment of heavy reflection, I reassured him, that no, people like him, who just didn't want to have to deal with having another program to learn weren't really missing anything by not being on Twitter. And you're not either.
Facebook has become an integral part of our lives -- it's where we, of all ages, share news and pictures and thoughts from our most important moments. So there's a case to be made that you're missing out on a piece of life if you avoid it. And of course, you use email and if there's some really funny video that all your friends are talking about, someone's bound to email it to you. So between Facebook, email, the phone, and just living, there's not much about your own life that you could learn only from Twitter.
And for the most part, most people don't use Twitter to share about their lives. We don't talk about relationships and life events on Twitter nor do we use it to share information. Of all of my friends who posted their engagement news to Facebook, I don't think a single one of them tweeted the news.
Because of its brevity, (each post must be 140 characters or less), Twitter is most useful as a tool for finding out news or information. If you were to attend a fair or festival or business function and followed a relevant hashtag, you might find out information that could be helpful to you. So if you go to an industry convention that has a hashtag associated with, you might want to consider joining to stay abreast of what's going on while there. The other place it can be helpful of course is in a dangerous situation; if you're at a protest and want to know about road blocks or if you're at a protest in a foreign country and want to find out where they're killing people or in a disaster area and need supplies, Twitter can be invaluable and maybe even save lives. But basically, unless you're involved in a circumstance that involves a crowd of people, it's not going to add anything to your life, that you aren't already getting elsewhere.
But for the most part, without Twitter, your life is going to operate just fine and you won't really be missing anything. You will find out news from the same places you always find out news from -- the newspaper you read or the websites you go to. Because if some really big news breaks on Twitter, all the big news sources are going to cover it. In fact, you may even avoid the pitfall of reading the early tweets about breaking news that often get pertinent details wrong.
And yes, memes happen. And they happen often on Twitter which means if you avoid it, you might not be the first one to know about an internet trend like a new Tumblr making fun of some celebrity or that pictures of toddlers and dogs napping together are all the rage right now. But of course, you use email and if there's some really funny video that all your friends are talking about, someone's bound to email it to you or even search for it yourself. So between email and your cell phone and Facebook, and your news sources, you're probably covered
That's not to say you should stay away from all these sites. Some of them you might enjoy. Pinterest is great if you're interested in anything that depends on visual images and Instagram is fun if you're especially interested in the photos your kids are posting. And Twitter can be very useful and important, especially if you carefully cultivate your list of the people you follow. But for those of you who are sick and tired of hearing about some new social media craze and want to know if you can just avoid it all together, rest assured, you're not missing out. And moreover, you have it on good authority from a Millennial who tweets, that those of us with our heads buried in Twitterland all day long might be the ones missing something.
A Millennnial who Facebooks, Tweets, Pins, Instagrams, Links-In, Blogs, and occasionally looks up