It’s a common misconception that as humans we can age out of embarrassment.
We think that eventually we’ll live a number of years that suddenly makes public humiliation more tolerable.
Reaching a point in life when there are truly no f*cks to give.
It’s not that embarrassment is unbearable; it’s simply the nature of exposure. When unplanned, it’s always unwanted. And for most of us, it starts with our parents. Parents are the best at embarrassing; they basically invented socks with sandals.
But as we grow older and more accustomed to social graces, we ease into ourselves and acquiesce to the awkwardness, accepting facts like “everyone poops” and moving forward, confidently.
And so, for most of us, we thought we were in the clear, having found some comfort in aging and learning the ways of the world, until our parents discovered social media.
Yes, that’s correct, the embarrassing moments from childhoods past have now made their way into social networking, via too candid comments, freewheeling posting, and the dreaded “Toooooo Cute! I love that face and I love you Sweetie, lol lol, xoxo Aunt Kathy”.
It may seem innocent, and it is, but the adoption rate of social media in Baby Boomers is steadily climbing, which means the extension of embarrassment into our lives will as well.
In fact, Baby Boomers are growing more and more tech savvy with each induction of new social platforms and mobile technology trends. Sure, Facebook has existed for 10 years now, and the wisest of our tribes are just becoming attuned to it, but their acceptance is reaching addiction like rates.
According to the Pew Research Center, over 70% of adults are Facebook users, checking their pages with regularity; nearly 60% of those individuals check in daily. And beyond that, adults in the 65+ demographic have tripled their social media usage in the past few years. This, of course, tells us the value of social networking sites, which most of the world has already seen and accepted. But it also allows for the rare opportunity in life where young people know more than their elders.
That’s right, your parents taught you to ride a bike, among many other challenging things, and now you must teach them to properly engage with social media.
Did you know the fastest growing age group on Twitter is the 55-64 bracket? And that Facebook is the social drug of choice for most, with 57% of Baby Boomers using it, and 35% of Senior Citizens on the site.
Let’s just remind ourselves that there are over 75 million Baby Boomers in the United States.
Which means the creepiness is not going to stop anytime soon, it’s only going to get worse. Therefore, we must embrace their entrance into this new world of engagement, and shepherd them along the way. Explaining the inherent strangeness of ‘poking’ someone on Facebook, or commenting on a photo of you in a friends-friends-friends album, or posting on your wall reminding you to call them back.
And so, we suggest, the next time you’re home, at a family party, or in an elevator with an individual trying to find their Cheaters so they can read a comment, just help them out. Social networking is a whole new world, and as the savviest of our tribe, we owe our elders some form of explanation. It’s not just the younger generations that need guidance; it’s everyone.
Think about it, you now have the power to teach the people who taught you, which is a pretty cool opportunity. Sure, you’ll need lots of wine, a glossary of terms, some simple diagrams, and to harness all your patience to do it, but it will be worth the work.
We can be the change that social networking needs. And it can start by simply explaining Instagram to your Mom.
Source: Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project tracking surveys 2005-2013. Spring Tracking Survey, April 17-May19, 2013.