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Does Social Media have a Type?

Facebook is for old people. This is what I heard, more than a few times, directly from the mouths of millennials with whom I shared many classrooms and conversations with at The University of Iowa. Generally, “Facebook is for old people” was the quick answer offered in response to an instructor’s question about student’s social media usage. I remember one student who specifically identified “wine moms” as the average demographic of Facebook users, after which I shared a quick smile and nod with the other “wine mom” and fellow student in that classroom. We accepted this designation easily and with grace because we are both moms who like wine and use Facebook regularly. This fact could not be denied. And, if they – my fellow students – say they don’t use Facebook as much us “wine moms” do, that’s fine. To each their own, right?

Out of curiosity I decided to search for a few of my millennial friends on Facebook and discovered that they weren’t all that difficult to find. There they were. On Facebook. Accepting my friend requests. And once you friend one or two, other friend suggestions pop up for even more millennial-aged users. And sure, there’s the possibility that the only reason they started a Facebook profile was because their parents were regular Facebook users and they, as budding socialites, were eager to follow suit when they reached the minimum required age for joining Facebook. But then I noticed that their profile pictures were not those of their thirteen-year-old selves, but current pictures of their college-aged-selves, and most of those millennial Facebook accounts were being updated regularly.

After observing that these same students who taunted, “Facebook was for old people,” regularly use Facebook themselves, I began to wonder what the actual statistics were for Facebook users. Statista.com posted a chart with an age distribution of Facebook users as of February 2020. The highest age group using Facebook, according to their research, is 25-34 years, amounting to 13.6% of their user base. But 25-34 is not this wine-mom’s age range. The next highest-ranking age group is 35-44 years – also not my age range, however, it is possibly the age range of some of the millennial’s moms. My age range on this chart, 45-54, ranked third at 7.9%, coming in very close to the age range of many of my classmates,18-24 years old, who ranked fourth at 7.6% of the total user base. So, what these rankings tell me is that those students in my classroom, who said Facebook is for old people, actually use Facebook about the same amount as this “wine mom.” 

Why, I wonder, did these fellow classmates try to claim that Facebook is just for old people when they, as verified by Statista.com’s February 2020 statistics, use Facebook just as much? Personally, I prefer Facebook over Instagram or Twitter for its versatility to post pictures and updates, connect with family and friends, create events that can be easily shared for a variety of reasons, create live videos, and I use Facebook Messenger for video calls, allowing me to talk with family members. I still use other social media platforms, but Facebook is more of a one-stop social media platform that I can use for multiple purposes. Everybody is different and has their own reasons for their preferred social media. That’s okay.

I’ll see ya on Facebook! 

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