Facebook's New Era?
As the shiny glow of Facebook wears off for Gen Y, another generation has stepped up to the plate. The Baby Boomer generation, otherwise known as our parents, has begun to flock to the crack that is Facebook. We were all there: late nights searching your friends' pages, checking your newsfeed every two minutes for updates, reloading your profile to see if anyone had commented on (or “liked”) your most recent post. It’s addictive--I can admit that.
But how is Gen Y faring with the recent onslaught of our adult counterparts flocking to Facebook? I recently received an interesting friend request—from my dad. I was tentative to click accept, but also too guilty to click reject. This is my dad, after all. Half of my DNA! He put a roof over my head and clothes on my back. How can I reject him in cyberspace? My sister, however, had less of a problem completely blocking him. Her reasoning was that she didn’t need him to “spy” on her. However, I am an adult. I have nothing to hide; and Facebook wouldn’t be the place to hide things anyway.
So I posted a status: “oh em gee, my dad’s on Facebook.” The response I got was pretty funny; some people saying the same thing, and that they had ignored their parents completely. Others had said that they were friends with their parents and that all was good in the ‘hood. I went so far as to ask some of my friends how they felt about their parents being on Facebook and whether or not they were “friends” with them.
Deena Lopez, a very old friend, said her dad is on Facebook, but she won’t be friends with him. “If I become friends with him, then I feel like I have to monitor what is on my page, not that it’s bad, but you can’t censor what [other] people write.”
Her father, Peter Lopez, said that he heard about Facebook through his job at Alloy (a clothing magazine for adolescent girls) because they did a number of promotions through Facebook. “But I really got into it when I joined a sailing club this year,” Mr. Lopez said.
“They're big girls.” Mr. Lopez said of his daughters. “They have their friends; I have mine. Besides, what I don't know won't stress me.”
Allison Fontaine-Capel said that her decision to accept her father’s friend request was “hard” until she realized she had control of what he did and didn’t see. Allison has blocked him from seeing her photos and her wall. “He doesn’t contact me over Facebook, which makes it easier to deal with,” she said.
Another friend, Justin Szeto, said that his stepmother is on Facebook. “[It] was odd at first because I didn’t know if I wanted her looking over my shoulder, but I [accepted the request] after a couple of days.” Justin said he had to think about it because he knew that what she would see on his Facebook would make it back to his dad. “But in the end, why does it matter? I’m grown up, right?”
“I think as long as the parent isn’t overprotective and [doesn’t] interfere with their kids life, then it is okay,” Justin said. “There has to be some [understanding] or agreement that they will not lose their head over everything they see. So far, Justin doesn’t regret his decision, as long as they both keep to their own lives.
That’s a very good point. However, Karen Lyn-Clarke makes another good point. She had reservations about accepting the friend requests from both her dad and uncle. Parents aren’t exactly your peers or in your social network, she said. Karen points out that a friend-ed parent can see all the tagged pictures of your scandalous and drunken moments. “My dad sad he joined to communicate better with family abroad and to be on the in crowd of technology,” Karen said. “I accepted the friend request because you gotta love the parentals for attempting to get to new things.”
There have been a number of mixed reviews out there. It seemed like my sister's avid dislike of my dad being on Facebook may have had to do with her age—she’s 16. It definitely allows parents to monitor, but not really control, what’s happening in their offspring’s lives. But maybe the Baby Boomers are joining Facebook (and MySpace) for the same reasons we all did so many years ago; to catch up with old friends and connect with current ones based on interests. I suppose Karen’s right; why should Gen Y claim Facebook as their territory? As long as both parties can respect the others—ahem—privacy, then what’s the harm?