The Baby Boomers pursuit of connectedness
Recently, I received an email from my aunty querying “What is this ‘Planking’? “What does it give the ‘Planker”?”. “Perhaps ‘Teapotting would be more your thing” I offered. “You’ve confused me.” She quickly replied. Only a few short years ago I’d have been astounded at her ability to operate a computer, let alone write a coherent email. We’ve all witnessed a Baby Boomer trying to send an SMS so cautiously as though pressing the wrong button would detonate a bomb. Suddenly, it seemed, my dear aging aunt was in my world.
Who was responsible to for my aunt’s sudden social awareness? She had recently joined Facebook. Born in an era where privacy was paramount and identities were often suppressed I wondered what did online communities have to offer my aunt? “It keeps me involved” she revealed when I questioned her motive for joining the 750million strong Facebook Army.
Feeling connected to one’s world is an inane human desire, one that is supported by social networking sites. Just knowing the popular memes of the moment makes my aunty feel a part of the world; this sharing of repeated information connects us all. Look at your neighbor who shouts ‘WINNING’ every time he fishes a newspaper off his front step. As if you needed further evidence.
‘Planking’ is a testament to this meme merry-go-round that we cringe and squeal with delight as we willingly ride it. We hear information and repeat it, just in time to hear it again – making us not the most discerning of internet users. An invitation to watch the World’s Biggest Pimple implode on YouTube? Yeah sure! A Dancing Baby video? I’d be crazy to miss that! Quick, post it on my wall.
My aunt’s case is not as unusual as I once thought – according to allfacebook.com, the average Facebook user is 38 years old. Social networking prevents her from falling through the cracks of the generational shift and getting left behind. Through Facebook, my aunt is once again curious about the world which is an exceptional gift, even if I have to explain “What is a G6?”.