When Old People Facebook: A Survival Guide

Since I previously discussed the humble beginnings of Facebook here, I would like to take this chance to reach out to the newest members of Facebook…anyone old enough to have listened to the Monkees on vinyl with rapture.

When Facebook was first expanded beyond the college-aged world, most adults seemed skeptical about joining.  After all, very few of their adult friends or colleagues had joined at that point.

But all that has since changed.

Thanks to the decline in voice-to-voice contact through text messaging and social media, more and more adults over the age of forty are reaching out to old and new friends via Facebook.

Generation Y
, welcome to a brand new world—where your creepy uncle, sweet Grandma, and the cousin you barely know all want to be your virtual friend.

But coming this late to the Facebook game does has its disadvantages.  There is unwritten Facebook activity etiquette that someone new to F.B.-ing just might not realize.

In that spirit, I have outlined below some common mistakes people over forty make via social media, specifically Facebook:

1. The Joint Account

Facebook is not banking.  There is no “ours” amongst profiles.  Not even conjoined twins Brittany and Abby Hensel have a joint Facebook account, and they share a uterus.  Do you share a uterus with your spouse for more than procreative purposes?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

So, what really gives you the right to have a joint Facebook account?

2. Inappropriate Poking

“Poking” is not just a friendly way of saying hi. It is a way of expressing sexual interest. So think twice before poking your son or nephew again, mom-trying-to-be-cool.

3. The Unrelated Picture Comment

Sometimes your (grand)son or (grand)daughter will be tagged in a picture by another person you don’t know. This is not an opportunity to thank said unknown person for the “great pic” and begin a direct conversation with your loved one.

Picture comments should relate directly to the picture or moment/evening captured.  The person that posted the original picture doesn’t care that Aunt Sue says hi to Little Tommy, and frankly wants to stop receiving email updates alerting him/her to your family Facebook pow-wow.

4. Parenting through Facebook

There is a reason that a recent AOL study found that 30% of teenagers wish they could “defriend” their own parents on Facebook. Simply put, it’s because you’re embarrassing them.

Here’s some things to avoid:

– Do not respond to your child’s current status of “fucking shitty day today” with “Billy! Language! I raised you better than that!”

(Author’s note: Before you scoff and think no parent would ever do this, I actually took this almost verbatim from a 26 year-old friend’s profile page. See, teenagers, your parents will never actually change. But eventually you will find it endearing, rather than embarrassing). 

– Do not scold your college-aged relative for their party pictures. Honestly, you opened Pandora’s Box by “friending” them in the first place. Just be grateful that you can even still see their photos, because soon they will learn about privacy settings and make it where you can’t.

5. Friending Your (Grand)Children’s Friends

I know, I know.

You were their T-ball coach, or maybe they spent the night at your house every weekend as a child (and you have the grocery bills to prove it, too). You see little Amy or little Mike pop up on your kid’s Facebook and you suddenly want to reminisce. You genuinely care and/or are morbidly curious about how their lives are turning out.

My advise to you: wait.

As J.M. Barrie famously wrote, “All children, except one, grow up.”  So, unless your kid’s friend is actually Peter Pan (in which case, sweet!), one of two things will eventually happen:

Your kid’s friend will either A) friend you, relieving the potential awkwardness or B) Turn 24 and have to make his/her profile so sanitary that he/she will no longer have to worry about shaming themselves in front of a parental figure.

Either way you have now gained a virtual friend.

And really, can there be any stronger bond?

To add more tips or advice for Baby Boomers new to Facebook check out our comments section below.

– Lindsay

About Lindsay Golder

Freelance writer, book-fiend, lover of shamefully bad films regularly featured on TBS or TNT.

7 Responses to “When Old People Facebook: A Survival Guide”

  1. Ah, the joint account. I’ve never quite understood whether this phenomenon indicated:

    1. someone in the relationship who is too bloody lazy to sign up for themselves.
    2. that they had become a singular, creepy organism, and that, at least in the virtual world, neither was allowed to have any friends that the other didn’t know about.

    I loved the post Lindsay – it’s a witty, yet scarily accurate look at what can happen when social networking technology ends up in the wrong hands.

  2. I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

  3. Pokes on Facebook always indicate sexual interest? I get several a day, and as a forty-five year old man I’m sure the greater majority of these pokers merely wish to say hello! Or I could resist the ageist canard that says individuals suddenly lose their sex appeal at age forty and say yes! Thanks for letting me know! Too bad for those WAY too young for me!
    And as for the Monkees, I knew some fans back in the day, but most of us were banging heads to Led Zeppelin or The Who, as we considered The Monkees to be what they were: a rip-off of The Beatles, totally corporate and factory-produced like the Bieber-tot and most of popular music today.
    I’m enjoying your fantastic blog. You and Natalie have set the bar, cleared it, set it higher, cleared it again, and continue to succeed in magnificent stride!

    • Re: Chuck and Mauri

      Thank you so much for reading! Also thank you to Chuck for just about the nicest compliment anyone has ever given our humble little blog.

      After taking into consideration Mauri’s comment below and polling various friends here’s what I came up with:

      “Facebook Poking” took on different meanings at different universities when first enabled. However, at most undergrads poking was nearly always sexual in nature, unless frat guys were doing it to each other to be simply annoying.

      But Chuck raises a great point here, that poking does not have this same taboo amongst those later to the Facebook game. So perhaps I should have just provided a warning–poking your younger relative on Facebook could be viewed as odd since it is sometimes seen as a form of a sexual hello.

      Either way, these “theories” of mine are just theories and not set in any absolute social media stone!

      Thank you both so much for taking the time to read and comment! We love any and all feedback here at Broads of the Beltway.

    • You’re my hero for the Monkees comment. lol

  4. I’m with Chuck here – I’m part of Facebook’s original target demographic and ‘poking = sexual interest’? I’m fairly sure that isn’t a standard, facebook-wide definition – everyone I know has only ever used it to be annoying.

  5. Do you know this website is recommended by a number of other blogs? Great work. Thank you very much!

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