My mom has gotten better than me at using social media.
It’s something I never expected to happen. But both her tech habits and social media itself have evolved a lot over the years.
You could say I’m in the Facebook generation. Mark Zuckerberg, of course, started Facebook as a Harvard-only site in 2004. I was in my freshman year of college at K-State then. It was the next year that the social media platform spread to other campuses. My friends at KU had it first, and at that time you had to be invited to use it, so when it came to K-State, they brought me into what felt like an exclusive club. I remember my friend Erin helping me set up my profile when I was home for break. There wasn’t much to it then; no news feed or any of the modern features. But it was fun to go there, because it felt like that’s where the people were.
Eventually, Facebook spread to high school students and then to the general public. It seems silly now, because practically everyone uses it. But at the time it felt like an unwelcome shift. The walls of the club were coming down, and it was a big change for people who were early users.
My dad, who’s pretty tech-savvy and aware of trends, joined Facebook soon after that. Why not? He could stay in touch with old friends, distant family members, former students. But at the time I told him it seemed creepy. I regret that now, because I think it hurt his feelings, and he wasn’t on for a long time after that. But again, at the time, it seemed that way to me. It was a platform for young people. Now, it’s so mainstream that government entities stream meetings there.
It probably took a little while for both my parents to get comfortable with it. What is a wall? What is tagging? How do you make sure you’re replying to a message and not just creating a new one? There’s a learning curve, and it’s generally steeper for baby boomers than for those who grew up playing Oregon Trail and Sim City.
My mom’s no luddite, but I’ll just tell you that there was a point around the turn of the millennium when she found out she had an email account that had been getting messages for a year and a half. And yet now she’s on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and who knows what else?
The other day, my mom posted a picture of a recent visit to a pumpkin patch. She and my dad were holding my kids in a little house made out of pumpkins: the perfect Insta backdrop. She had some cute caption with “#fallvibes” and some seasonally appropriate emojis.
Casual hashtag use? My mom? It’s nothing groundbreaking, but I think it means she’s mastered the form. She has become fluent in social.
What’s more, all of her friends liked and commented. They like and comment on my posts, too — possibly more than my friends do. I’m not sure whether that means she’s more popular than I am (probably, she’s very friendly) or whether her friends are all retired and have more time for Facebook. Either way, I think it shows how prevalent things like social media have become and how people who are middle aged and older have really embraced technology in a way that maybe their parents didn’t.
I was inspired recently by a TikTok video of 37-year-old guy, Nathan Apodaca, on a skateboard lipsyncing to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” You’ve probably seen it. It went viral. It put Fleetwood Mac back on the charts, for pete’s sake. 50 million views.
I’ve never used TikTok. I always felt I was too old for it. But this guy’s video struck a chord with people: here was someone just enjoying life, chugging some cranberry juice, listening to good music.
My takeaway is that it’s good to try new things and do what you like, no matter how old you are.