(part 2 of 2)

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first part of this post, i mentioned how younger generations are leaving twitter and facebook, and how the real growth of those services has been with the older crowd. part 1 talked about the reasons more older persons are joining social media sites; this next part focuses on why the younger population is starting to veer away from them.</p>

the problem with being cool is the risk of becoming too cool. even fonzie (or “da’ fonz” as i like to call him) wasn’t immune to this risk. a cool drink is too cold and you get pain in your teeth. slurpees and icees and slush puppies — whichever of the 900 names you’d like to give those delicious frozen drinks that make your mouth turn colors — will give you brain freeze. and, lately, it appears that facebook and twitter have been spending too much time at the back of a convenient store.

before there was facebook

younger people started joining social networks long before the social networking movement as a means of connecting with similar people, especially with their friends. since before facebook and myspace were around, there were sites like xanga, livejournal, and blogger/blogspot; these sites offered blogs — ways for the internet youth at the time to write what they were feeling and share it with the world. it was hip, and it was cool… then when it got so cool, the professional bloggers moved in and all of a sudden — with the advent of myspace and facebook and friendster — our current notion of “social networking” was born, turning blogging among the youth ice cold.

it’s all just a little bit of history repeating

but now — as often happens — history repeats itself. tweens, teens, and college students found their own little place in the internet world again with sites geared towards them. as mentioned in part 1, you couldn’t sign up for facbeook unless you had an email address from a select few colleges at the start. and then — for a while — only college students or recent grads with an alumni email address were granted admission before zuckerberg saw his chance to cash in on the big bucks and opened the service up to high-schoolers. at that point in time there was a great backlash of college students fearing their coveted system tailor-made for them was being put in jeopardy (and we were right!!). the centigrade began to fall on facebook, making it ever cooler. everyone was then able to join but all wasn’t lost… yet.

the march of the penguins

it has only been recently that facebook has turned ice cold,with large corporations creating facebook ‘fan’ pages and sponsored ads shoving movies and tv shows at you that you neither care about, nor want to see. but even that was tolerable! no — young people didn’t care much that corporations were setting up facebook pages for everything from brands (like apple’s itunes) to television shows, to individual TV personalities… young people care now that — and here’s the key part — their parents joined!

can you think of anything LESS COOL than YOUR PARENTS?!

i admit that when my father first joined facebook i had the same kind of reaction as any other young person: “i don’t want my dad following me on facebook! i post personal stuff on there.” i didn’t want him knowing about my ongoing poke wars i had with cute girls from college. i didn’t want him to hear the details of my weekend activities with my old roommates. so i started putting that kind of stuff on twitter — but now young folks are feeling encroached on even in the micro-blogging world.

now twitter is filled with the likes of larry king, martha stewart, and — dear god — oprah. there’s really no safe haven for youths anymore. if you’re a tween, or teen, would you want to be sporting the same fashions as martha and oprah? or wearing suspenders like larry king? no — you absolutely wouldn’t… so why would you want to use the same social networks?

there’s been a full on march of the penguins among older folks to these now ice cold social networking services. for youths — just as it was when we were tweens and teens — there’s no overestimating the power of ‘cool.’ all we ever wanted was to be ourselves, and for parents to drop us off a block or two away from school so that our friends didn’t see mom driving us up to the doors each day before first bell. now their most treasured possession — their social circles — are being encroached on from all directions by the worst group of all: old people.

when you look at all the contributing factors, it’s really no surprise that young people are no longer into services like facebook and twitter. it’s because of the affordances the older population has which now allows them to join these services in record numbers, and that’s what’s bringing about the main crux of the problem: facebook and twitter threaten the very foundation of youth — the social network.

kind of ironic, isn’t it?