“It’s Just A Joke” – Misinterpreted Posts on Social Media

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For my final blog post I want to look at the way in which jokes and things said online can be misinterpreted and give the wrong idea to audiences. Samantha mentioned in her previous post that the internet is a dangerous place full of the unknown, where people can be misunderstood and react differently to things that may have been said.

A popular example of a social media website where people take things the wrong way is Tumblr. According to Kanguro Communications, this blogging site has 102 million registered users, with 44.6 billion posts published. Tumblr is one of the easiest websites to make a joke on and have hundreds of people take offence to it.One text post or one caption under a photo later, and along come the sensitive souls to protest it.

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While Tumblr is a great website to post about anything in a light-hearted manner, there is still the “precious ones” on the other side that will find offense in almost any joke made. It’s common to see people who overly analyze everything on the internet. Helen Kirwan-Taylor of Marie Claire magazine describes ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’, or the HSP for short. She says “HSPs are wired differently from the rest of the popoulation; it’s like they’re wearing an extra pair of glasses”. So should people of this type of personality be using Tumblr when they are simply being asked to comment and correct things? Why not, it’s just a website.

With billions of posts online, Tumblr is the key website to look out for in terms of misinterpreted ideas and jokes. The internet and social media has almost no filter; it welcomes in anyone with a free spirit wanting to say anything they like.

– Kelly

The Dangers of Online Friendships

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Although the internet has helped to facilitate the expansion, and maintenance of many people’s global friendships, there is still the danger of the unknown that comes with the use of the Internet and social media sites.

With the release of the 2010 film Catfish, and the ensuing MTV television series of the same name, the world was reminded of the very likely danger, and immense ease of concealing, or creating a false, identity on the Internet. The film inspired the use of the term ‘catfishing’, which website Urban Dictionary defines as ‘the phenomenon of internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships (over a long period of time).’

With the production of the television series, people have gained the ability to write in, and get help from the creators of the film. This allows people who think they are being scammed to find out the truth, with the help and support of those who have already experienced it. However, these people are still finding themselves in these situations to begin with. This support is great; however shouldn’t we be more focussed on avoiding these situations rather than dealing with them once they’ve happened?

Helpfully, University of the Pacific identified a number of signs that indicate you may be being ‘catfished’; these include

  • Inability to contact the other party “in person” – their cell phone is broken or has been stolen, they will not use Skype or SnapChat, they will not or cannot meet you in public despite the seriousness of your relationship.
  • Their photographs appear to be highly edited, stylized, or otherwise unrealistic. You can search Google by image file in order to determine whether the photos you’ve received are legitimate.
  • Details of their personal life consistently changing, or they have a life story that seems unbelievable or outlandish. If the relationship becomes too intense, they may develop a life-threatening illness, or face another threat to their “life” that could terminate the relationship. Your best resource here is your instinct for the truth, and to keep track of variations in their stories.

Alongside catfishing, there is a myriad of other, well-known, dangers of the anonymity associated with the Internet, including cyber-bullying and stalking, sexual predators, identity theft, account hacking and hi-jacking, and credit card fraud.

With the creation of sites, such as this one, that tells people how to fake their identity online, will we ever be certain of who we are talking to? Or will scepticism and suspicion forever be necessary attributes to have when looking to connect to people through the Internet and social media sites?

-Samantha

Friendships across different social media

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“Linkedin is for people you know. Facebook is for people you used to know. Twitter is for people you want to know.”

Although the author of this phrase is unknown, it gives interesting insight into how different social media networks are used for different purposes.

Kelly talked about Twitter in her first post, and how it was an effective way to have an instant connection with people anywhere in the world. Josh Constine says he likes Twitter because of how easy it is to learn about all kinds of new things and easily interact with all kinds of people:

“The Internet gave everyone a way to share. But Twitter’s character limit and real-time nature delivers us condensed, pre-filtered, ready-to-consume intelligence rather than making us hunt for it.”

This study notes that Twitter is more about conversation than identity. You can talk and connect with people by sharing your views and reading about theirs, even if you don’t use your real name. It is more about WHAT you say than WHO you are. They believe that because of this, relationships are more informal and don’t matter as much. I think this is definitely true to an extent, in that you can favourite, retweet or tweet anyone, regardless of how well you know them. But it is also a place where you really get to know people’s personalities well, through what they tweet and the conversations you have, and relationships on Twitter can become important and meaningful in this network. It is certainly true that Twitter is for people you want to know, but it also gives you the opportunity to follow and connect with these people, and turn your WANT into something you can actually HAVE.

In an earlier post, Kelly noted that as of March 2014, Facebook was still the most popular social network on the web, and it is definitely the one most suitable for people you know. On Facebook you have to set up a profile with your name and, as most people choose and as the name suggests, a picture of your face. This automatically involves you as a person, and the option to add additional information means that anyone you’re “friends” with can see these things and know a lot about you. It is different from Twitter in this way because when you follow someone on Twitter you may not know them, or they may follow you not knowing who you are, but your profile is open and you expect people you don’t know to look in, so you can end up finding a large variety of people. But with Facebook, you may not be so comfortable having people you don’t know knowing so much about you. This means Facebook largely becomes reserved as a network of people you’ve met in real life or know quite well, and is harder to expand beyond people you already know on this network.

Jenny also talked about how other social media sites are more useful places to meet people with similar interests, and one of the main sites where this occurs is Tumblr. A 2013 study found that while Facebook is still popular, Tumblr is actually slightly MORE popular with the under 25’s.

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Adam Rifkin refers to Tumblr as Facebook 2.0, the Facebook young people actually want to be on.

“As Facebook has become a real-life social network infested with parents, co-workers, ex-friends, and people you barely know, Tumblr has become the place where young people express themselves and their ACTUAL INTERESTS with their ACTUAL FRIENDS”

Tumblr gives you freedom that Facebook doesn’t – you can share anything, say anything, say what you mean in GIF format and express yourself and your interests without having to tell anyone your name. Alternatively, you can share everything about yourself, and your interests, and form friendships with people who have the same interests as you. It is an easy way to blog, and a place to freely share thoughts and ideas, where Facebook seems to be more formal, more private, a way to keep your image up with people around you, when Tumblr lets you ignore formality and post as you please.

Less known and used than these 3 main websites, but still offering a network on which to connect with friends is Snapchat. Nick Bilton believes its popularity is in how quick and simple it is. People in the 21st century are impatient, and Snapchat requires little effort to send and receive content. It also allows more “humanness”, because once sent, the snaps never get to be seen again:

“And when you can throw things away, you can have more fun….. This also affords a feeling of something being personal: for a few people, not for everyone.”

Friendships on this network can be interesting. And what is different, unlike Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, is that you can choose which of your friends gets to see something. If you take a selfie, you might only feel comfortable sending that to your really close friends, but a picture of your dog may go to everyone. The people who did not receive the first picture don’t have to know, so friendships are more manageable on this network. I would argue, however, unlike the other three networks, that it is not a great place to make new friends. Although you have to approve them, random strangers can access your Snapchat and send you pictures, but the short length of these interactions and the difficulty of a quick reply make it harder to learn much about someone. It is more of a way to keep people you already know amused and updated on your life.

All these social networks offer a service for friendship and connection, but they all have their different strengths and weaknesses which gives them all a purpose. This is why although Tumblr may be growing amongst young people, Facebook is still just as popular with them. Friendships connect differently in different networks, but this means it is easier to find the people you want to find. If you want to learn about people you know, use Facebook. If you want to learn and connect with your choice of a wide variety of people, use Twitter. If you are young and want to find people who share your interests in a fun way, try Tumblr. If you want to be silly with your friends, use Snapchat. And there are many more social networks I haven’t mentioned. When it comes to making and keeping friends in social networks, the possibilities are endless.

– Kirsten

 

The Spectrum of Online Friends

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For my last post I want to explore the different kinds of friendship found online, and talk about how it is harder to define these internet relationships, with fans and many cross-overs on this large spectrum.
I want to mostly base this post around an article which has 7 different types of online fan and friendship descriptions, which was written by Mike Arauz, and because many celebrities use Twitter, I will provide some examples in terms of this site.

The first stage is ‘Passive Interest’ which is when someone follows you and may read some of your tweets.
Second is ‘Active Interest’ such as favouriting, retweeting or replying to one of your tweets, but as Arauz states, they are not expecting a response from you.
Thirdly, there is the ‘Sharing’ stage in which someone becomes a fan of you, and are influenced by what you are doing and have to say.
The fourth stage is ‘Public Dialogue,’ where you reply to that person, and others are able to see you communicating with this person.
Fifth is ‘Private Dialogue’ which means you have trust for each other, and may talk only the two of you on direct messages.
Then there is the ‘Advocacy’ stage in which you are putting time into telling people you know about this person, even if it ruins your reputation.
Lastly, ‘Investment’ is the hardest to arrive at, and it is when people take action to follow that person and support your judgement.
Arauz also adds that none of these have to be reciprocal, and it is possible to skip over certain actions.

I feel like Advocacy is a bit out of place, and that Private dialogue should be one of the last stages as it seems to be the most intimate, and possibly unsafe. I also feel like Advocacy is treating someone like they are lower than you, while Private Dialogue is communicating with someone more on your level. I also am interested to see how fast someone would be able to go from the first to seventh step, and I think that people can go in and out of stages, replying to someone’s posts when they have something to say, sometimes getting a response from that person, and therefore being involved in Active interest, and Public Dialogue, and I think this could also depend on what topics you are discussing and whether your response is seen.

As Simon Whatley states on his blog, ‘If you join Twitter or Facebook, one of the actions you are almost immediately asked is to identify your friends. But relationships in a digital world are not absolute.’ On Facebook contacts are called ‘friends’, but some of them you would never ask to spend time with, let alone comment on one of their posts. In comparison, on Twitter your contacts are called ‘Followers’ when on my account some of the people that follow me are my close friends, and I do not think I have anyone following me that would be afraid to start up a conversation due to hierarchy, in which the word ‘followers’ suggests.

Arauz’s blog mentions a lot about status of fans, but I think some of the beginning stages can be missed if two people are of similar follower numbers and equal levels of status, and immediately communicate and reply to each other without having to build as much trust.

My last source written by Jessica Vitak talks about how the level of friendship online also can depend, not on how often you talk, but the topics you converse about, and I have personally found myself on Facebook talking to people I am not very close with about broad topics such as university courses, and then my closest friends more about my emotions, past, family etc.

Vitak also asks; ‘Have we become too reliant on the instantaneous, answer-producing quality of the internet that can reveal others’ most intimate personal details before we even introduce ourselves?’ I agree with this and think we definitely communicate with friends online more than in real life, and there is also a difference in types of friendships that form online. I think on social networking websites we can maintain many friendships at once such as replying multiple people on twitter in one tweet, adding multiple people to a facebook chat, or direct messaging two people at once separately, whilst commenting on another friends’ new profile photo. This is a standard form of friendship online, which comes under most of the categories of public and private dialogue.  We also expect our friends to not reply straight away, due to being distracted and doing things on other sites, therefore we do not have our heart and soul poured into these conversations as much, because we know we are just a fragment of all their social connections. However, when you talk to someone in real life for a few hours, you expect them to remember more of what you’ve said and that you have made up a section of their offline social connections of the day.
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In summary, there are a lot of different types of friendships online, which can also involve fans, and it is very hard to label people you interact with into one category because there can be cross-overs on the spectrum depending on things like post discussions, and whether you’re online.

-Jenny

International Friendships & Worldwide Connections

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Social media is undoubtedly one of the best ways to keep in contact with people. With no need for a telephone call or a stamp on an envelope, social media has been magnified in such a way that, according to eMarketer, the total number of social network users worldwide has increased by 100 million people between 2012 and 2013. The phenomenons of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and countless other digital media platforms are constantly gaining popularity, along with the ways in which people connect through these networks.

The joy of real human contact is rapidly being replaced by electronic connections through computer screens, and smart phone and tablet technology. The days of feeling that initial excitement of seeing an old friend on the streets has been swapped for a feeling of dread and the thought of “please don’t let them see me”. Is it because people are growing lazy of seeing people in person that social media is being seen as more of an ideal option? The simple click of a mouse can open up endless online opportunities – it is more common for people to have online friendships around the world today than it has ever been.

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A map released in 2013 shows the geographical locations of Facebook users around the world and how friendships have been formed through global connections. Glowing blue lines show how every country is connected by international friendships. From the United States to Russia, to Europe and even New Zealand, this map shows the incredible impact social media has had in connecting people and the ways in which the internet is becoming more and more preferred.

As of March 7 2014, Facebook – created in 2004 – is the most popular and desired social networking website, with over 900 million users. Twitter comes in second with 310 million users. The constant need to feel connected and keep in contact with people across the world is clear through status updates, and friend & follower counts. Statistics from Top Ten Reviews show that teenagers are the most likely age group to use social media to make friends, with 69% of teens owning a computer, and 55% of teens giving personal information to people they know but have never met in person. It raises more questions than it gives answers – who are we really talking to? Are the “friends” we talk to online on a daily basis worth trusting? The same study shows that 88% of parents are aware their children use the internet to talk to people around the world they don’t know; whether it is because they are socially incapable in person or because they want to know more outside of their own household is unknown. But what is known is that social media is gaining its popularity; the friendships created within it are connecting people around the globe every day and it doesn’t look like it will be letting up any time soon.

– Kelly

Cross-Gender Online Friendships

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In this post I want to explore the way in which males and females find it easier to connect and communicate on the internet, compared to that of the same kind of friendships in person, and how attraction can be assumed.
In a study comparing both forms of friendships, Chan and Cheung were said to have found that ‘….qualities of cross-sex online friendships were higher than that of same-sex online friendships.’
I think the main reasons behind this are the way members of society can jump to conclusions, and the way appearance is a centre-point for forming an allure, which are both materialistic reasons, which can lead these offline communications to be not as strong.
In comparison, it seems people who meet online become friends due to their personality, and can actively discuss topics without any thoughts of romantic interest whatsoever.
I think that proximity plays a big part in this way of promoting communication between two people, because it is assumed that this distance would make a relationship harder to sustain, and therefore their behaviour is less monitored and under the gaze of others.

In a study of online relationships for adolescents, they talked about some interesting points on how the internet is a place to meet without distraction, and ‘…awkwardness generated by the physical presence of someone of the opposite sex,’ with less problems of  self-absorbed feelings surrounding their appearance, and more awareness of how the things they are saying are portraying their ‘inner self’.

I think that since someone online could easily lie and have a fake picture of a person of a different gender to themselves,  it doesn’t matter what their photo looks like, or what gender it appears to be, but what is central is that the person seems nice and interesting to talk to.

When you see two people spending time in person, it may appear to be as if they are making an effort to see each other. However when someone is online, one can be on many chat systems and social networking sites at once, talking to multiple people at a time, so this form of spending time talking is not as much of a big thing.

Therefore, I think these online friendships are more relaxed, with less social cues on how a gender must act, or how people of separate genders must act towards one another, and as this student newspaper blog asks: ‘How far are our friendships — something that we innately abide by — influenced by media or society, forcing us to label what we share?’ This links to my next post on the spectrum of online friendship, and whether defining these relationships is really necessary.

In another cross-gender communication research paper, they talked about how sometimes communication cues can be muddled and a joke can be interpreted as flirting. This aspect is also true, but hopefully if the quality of the friendship is as strong as stated above, then things can still be recovered.

In conclusion I think there are a number of reasons why males and females can have strong friendships without romantic tension with the opposite sex online, and how the bonds formed are less materialistic and based more on interests and personality.

-Jenny

Friendships On Twitter: How Do People Connect Through One Social Platform?

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Twitter. One of the world’s largest social networking websites. It allows user to send and see messages of no more than 140 characters and to “follow” users that may have similar interests to themselves. For this blog post, I want to focus on the social media phenomenon that is Twitter and how it has developed over the last few years from a simple updating stream to a place where people meet and friendships begin. According to StatisticBrain, as of January 1 2014, there are 645,750,000 registered and active users on Twitter, with an average of 135,000 people signing up every day.

But what is it about this particular website that makes it so popular and allows people to make such powerful connections with each other?

Friendships online develop through common interests. It could be a musician, a film, a book, an actor/actress – the boundaries are limitless. As an active Twitter user, my personal experiences with friendships in networks develops every day. Over 3,000 people, including some young Hollywood names, have welcomed me onto their timelines and into their lives. To be able to meet people through a screen from all over the world and have an immediate connection with them is truly something special. Some of my best friends are people that I have never met. Out of the amount of users I have talked to through Twitter, I am fortunate that I have a few of them in real life.

Not only is Twitter a powerful global medium for friendships in social networking, it helps save lives. The Mother Nature Network reported that a woman crashed her bike in the woods and after sending out a call for help on Twitter, at least 6 people called rescuers and help arrived within minutes. It shows that people are willing to help others when they are in need.

Go back ten years and if anyone were to say “don’t talk to strangers on the internet, you don’t know who people really are behind a keyboard:, it would be a common sense reaction to agree. Due to technological developments over the last decade, this old school internet rule is laughed at by those of Generation Z, the younger generation. Twitter is a network of freedom of speech, where anyone can express anything and whoever wants to listen can. It helps people to stay connected to each other, and be able to update on common interest whenever, wherever.

– Kelly

Similar interests, and the way websites make these online friendships easy.

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In this blog post I want to consider groups online which share similar likes and dislikes, and how some social networking based websites are based around people from different backgrounds, and social spheres forming friendships.

In the last post on this blog which was on loneliness, Kirsten quoted; ‘But he doesn’t believe that Facebook itself is creating the loneliness, only that people transfer their loneliness from offline life into their online life.’
I agree with this point, mostly in terms of the example of Facebook, in which you are connected with most people you know from offline, and are almost expected to post about your social life, and appear to be living in an interesting way.
I do however think there are communities online which reach out to people who are isolated offline, and give them a kind of friendship they may not have been able to find otherwise.

In Kirsten’s post she also talked about how everything you say can be edited (minus video calls), and how this is a loss and can create loneliness, I think this feature of the internet can also be turned around for people who are usually shy, or are maybe socially awkward, which was mentioned in a survey of online relationships, and this allows them to have conversations with people who have similar interests, and be able to have exactly what they want said communicated.

On a blog post by a friendship blogger, she talks about how it is easier to form friendships online and how we are ‘eager to find a kindred spirit whose experiences are similar to ours.’ Removing Facebook in which you are highly linked in with people you know from offline, I think a lot of other sites are popular for this reason, such as Twitter, Youtube, Blogger, Instagram, and Tumblr, because they make it easy to find people who have similar tastes and interests. You may join a website because you know a few friends who are also involved in that community, but with the help of the webpage you branch out, and try and find things you like by using searches, hashtags, recommendations, ‘discover’, tagged posts, or other users find you, due to the content you may be posting. Majority of people when they post on these sites have the ability to post privately, but I think the reason people post videos on Youtube and leave them for the world to see is because they want to connect with others, share ideas, make some people laugh, and even maybe find other people with similar videos (your kindred spirits), and this has become very easy to do, and is why people like using these websites.

If you are not looking for your spirit and you only want to become closer with people you already know, it does not matter because basically ever social networking website is designed to get people talking about their interests, such as Facebook pages, which are all about getting people to communicate what they like and do not like, share opinions and share content. Because on the internet everyone can be a producer of some form of content, these straightforward sharing abilities add to the easiness of making friends, and mean less extreme hierarchies between makers and their audience/viewers.

I wanted to talk about the blogging website ‘Tumblr’ specifically in relation to this topic of interest groups. On this website you can ‘reblog’ any post from another person to your own page, which creates this place containing many posts which may involve your favourite television programmes, music, a funny post, an outfit that you might like, or anything your heart desires. From a journal on digital media, Marquat mentions a few reasons into why Tumblr is a great networking site for sharing opinions and posts. These features include; being able to quickly upload data of your choice, (which she references as being called ‘Micro-blogging’), using the reblog function, which is a way of ‘continuing a thread of discussion throughout a Tumblr community,’ how more than one person can contribute to one Tumblr page, and lastly how there is an ‘ask box’ and submitting functions, so that linking back to what I said above, people can be the makers, viewers, and in this case, even both for the same Tumblr page.

In conclusion, if you are lonely on the internet, you are just not using the right websites, because there are multiple different social networking platforms made up of continuous ways of being easy to connect with and find people who are similar to you.

-Jenny

More connections, more loneliness?

ImageAlthough many people join social media networks to connect with people and maintain and form friendships, in some cases they have been shown to increase loneliness, rather than decrease, as one might assume.

Interviewed in this article, John Cacioppo, who released a book on loneliness in 2008, believes that although people seem to be more connected through social media, if their social networks are lacking and they are lonely outside Facebook, they will often still be lonely even though they are connected to Facebook. But he doesn’t believe that Facebook itself is creating the loneliness, only that people transfer their loneliness from offline life into their online life. But the author of the article, Stephen Marche, says that although we are more connected through instant communication, we have never been more detached from each other, and this can foster loneliness

“We know intuitively that loneliness and being alone are not the same thing. Solitude can be lovely. Crowded parties can be agony.”

We are by ourselves more, but we are always connected, so there is no solitude or time apart from each other. Although we can be connected to our friends in the present, they are not actually in our presence, which can make us feel lonely.

Margie Warrell describes social networks as a cycle, in which we experience instant gratification when someone likes or comments on a post. But the happiness tends to wear off quickly, so we seek more likes and comments as a result. Because of this, some friendships online become more of a series of connections, rather than long-lasting interactions.

“I love Facebook, Twitter, and all the social media tools that enable me to connect with friends, family and fabulous people like you whom I’ve likely never met. But as useful as these tools are, it’s important to appreciate what social networks are, and what they are not.”

She believes it is important to have time separate from friendships in networks, because human interaction is what helps us feel “whole”, and is the way to reduce our loneliness. It is interesting to think about how much less we interact in person because of how easily we can connect with friends through these online networks. Although she doesn’t offer a lot of evidence to back up her claims, it provides an idea of why connecting online may cause people to feel lonely.

Sherry Turkle, a professor of technology at MIT, talks about these ideas in her book Alone Together, and summarises her findings in this TED talk. She has fears technology may be taking over our lives, and that it could negatively impact socialisation and friendships.

“[Social media] don’t really work for learning about each other, for really coming to know and understand each other”

When there is too much control over who you talk to and when, when everything can be edited to be just how we want it, we lose the humanness that comes from engaging with people in person. We start to rely on technology to maintain our relationships. Turkle outlines that there is a problem in always being connected, and it is that we never learn to be alone. 

“Solitude is where you find yourself, so that you can reach out to other people and form real attachments”

What makes us lonely, she argues, is not knowing how to be alone. We are always connected to these social networks, and so we tend to use other people as buffers to solve our problems with ourselves and our loneliness, but it is only a temporary fix. Turkle believes we need to be fully present in person, to converse and pay attention to one another, and this will lead to more fulfilling relationships, rather than just small connections all the time.

Being connected online with friends is very common nowadays, but it interesting to see how these connections can have negative impacts on our friendships and how they affect our loneliness. It appears we cannot survive on online friendships and interaction alone, because at the end of the day we really require that human connection we can only get from spending time with one another in person.

– Kirsten

The picture at the top of the post is taken from this video, ‘The Innovation of Loneliness’, which provides a good summary of Sherry Turkle’s main idea on how and why we can be affected by loneliness, even in though we are always socialising online. 

Friendships in social media across generations

ImageThis image shows that although younger generations are more likely to be connected to social media, large percentages of the older population are also connected (Image created by Next Advisor, with information sourced from Pew Research Center)

 

When looking at friendships within social networks the focus is often on theImage younger generations because they appear to use social media much more frequently than older generations, but it is interesting to see just how much more they use social media for their friendships than older generations.  One 2009 study from Anderson Analytics explored the uses of social media by different generations and found that significant portions of older generations were also using social media to connect with friends. As seen on the table on the right, 71% of Generation X, 62% of the Baby Boomers and 57% of the WW11 Generation joined social media to keep in touch with friends, and many also joined to keep in touch with family. Also, in all these age groups, people tended to be more likely than the younger generations to join because they were invited by someone, so they were specifically intending to use Facebook to keep in touch with people they knew.

 

 

ImageIn a study conducted by Pew Research Center in 2011, they found that there was not much difference in America between the 18-29 age group and the 30-49 age group when it came to how many were using the social networking websites for friendship reasons. As seen in the table on the left, in both age groups over 70% of people were using these networks to keep in touch with current friends. As you look at the older generations, however, it is certainly true that they use social media less than younger generations when it comes to keeping in touch with current and old friends.  

In that research there was no deeper look into why older generations didn’t find social media networks as useful for connecting with friends, but perhaps it is because the younger generations have been raised on social media, and have learned how to connect with friends more this way than the older generations before them. In this article published just last month, 30-something Seth Fiegerman talks about how much more connected he is with old classmates than his father, who moved away and lost touch with most of his classmates a long time ago, whereas Seth has been following his classmates online since the birth of Facebook in 2004. It makes maintaining those friendships or acquaintances easier for Seth, who is accustomed to social media, than for his father from the older generation. He expresses how much harder it is for the older generation to rekindle these friendships online because they are long gone:

“The magic of Facebook for this older group, as I’ve heard over and over again from parents and colleagues, is that it reopens a window to the past, though the thrill is often short-lived because these relationships have been dormant too long.”

This helps make some sense of why the younger generations tend to use social media for friendships more than the older generations. For the younger generations, who first got Facebook when they were still in high school, the connection with their classmates never left, and many of them grew accustomed to maintaining friendships online rather than in person so continue to do so.

So while it is certainly true that younger generations connect with friends on social media more than older generations, there are still many people across all age groups using social media to connect with friends. It just seems to be easier for younger generations because they have grown up around social media and online friendships, while older generations have to learn the new systems of communication and reconnect with people, rather than just maintain friendships as the younger generations do.

– Kirsten

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