Anne was born in 1942. Married since 1965, she’s occupied several jobs over her lifetime including antique dealer, her main profession. She’s been on Facebook for 10 years and Instagram for 2 years, just to keep up with what her friends and family are doing. Social media gave her the opportunity to get back in contact with childhood friends, as well as to converse with people she’d lost track of over the years.
By Sarah Langot
Having mastered the art of data processing since she was 20, Anne has learned to manage by herself. But some organizations offer update courses on social media, and she regrets not having attended any of their classes. She asks young people for help, and if they aren’t around, she tries to figure things out on her own. For example, right now she’s having trouble with her albums on Facebook.
She prefers to not try to learn techniques that she thinks are complicated; when she doesn’t understand something, she goes on to something else. She’ll wait for a young person to come by to explain things to her. She only uses social media on her telephone, which as we know is a gadget in constant evolution.
The Advantages of Social Media
She thinks that social media maintains links to others. It allowed her to find friends living abroad. Thanks to Facebook, she can exchange birthday wishes and holiday greetings with these friends. She’d also like to see some nice virtual messages on these occasions, even if this practice happens more on Instagram.
Here’s where the intergenerational divide plays itself out. She talks about groups on Facebook, like alumni associations. These groups take walks down memory lane, and they keep up traditions. She also talks about groups that help find a lost pet or help someone get a job, among others.
These groups are, according to her, one of the enormous advantages of Facebook. And Anne likes to read up on the world news quickly; she sees this as a form of geopolitical transparency.
The Drawbacks of Social Media
Anne hates fake news, and doesn’t want to accidentally let out any of her personal data. She never gives approval for access to her personal information when her apps ask for it. And she doesn’t post her travels like she once used to. Another black mark, she thinks, is the repetition of the same political debates over and over again.
She thinks that religion and politics have no place on Facebook, because that creates discord. She doesn’t like it when governments, countries or ministers are criticized. She’s decided to go on the platform less, to avoid these divisive fights. It’s also why she doesn’t want to go on Twitter, a social media platform known for its confrontational opinions. She doesn’t want to leave her social media behind for the moment, but she’s conscious of the damage that they can inflict. She thinks it’s better to express oneself with the aid of physical mannerisms, rather than just typing out a few lines that could easily be misinterpreted.
Generation Gap in How They’re Used
Contrary to popular belief, social media aren’t the private plaything of young people only, Anne says. But she thinks that young people use social media too much, whereas seniors use it with more moderation. As she puts it: “We are not being ostracized from social media. It’s just that you don’t pay attention to us, because our conversations don’t interest you.”
She explains that seniors post photos of themselves when they were younger, photos of their country. They talk about their origins, their customs and those of their parents. They give out recipes from their past, recipes that once fed 25 people around a table. Anne concludes: “We don’t cover the same subjects. The language of seniors on social media is far less superficial than that of young people.”