Above: An Instagram by my grandmother.
Neither of my parents have Facebook. My mom had it for a while but didn’t like the idea of people being able to find her so easily. I too would be creeped out if a friend from middle school who I hadn’t kept up with were to friend me on Facebook 35 years later. However, both my mom and my dad do have Instagram accounts. They only follow about 10 people and have more control over their privacy. On the other hand, both my grandmothers have Facebook and one also has an Instagram.
The older generations have succumbed to the popularity of social media. It’s a way for them to keep up with family, friends and friends of friends and family. My parents and grandmothers like that it is another way to connect with and keep up with me and my sister. I applaud their efforts. All that being said, the generational lag can be entertaining. They are new to the idea of social media and naturally have questions and concerns, which are usually directed to me.
My mom called me the other day, asking what the difference is between a hashtag (#) and tagging (@) on Instagram. At first it was funny, because the difference is so easy, but it was harder to explain than I thought. Really though, what is the point of a hashtag? Things that have become such second nature to my generation are still a foreign concept to the many people from older generations. Similarly, my generation doesn’t stop to question change. Why did we start hashtags? What about privacy and security? Our instinct is not to question, it’s just to do. We assume that things must be fine if everyone else is doing it. Enter your routing number and bank information for a money transfer app, no biggie! Convenience and the knowledge that all your friends are using it effect our media consumption habits and interactions.
I guess my family thinks I’m a social media wiz, because my grandmother also called me the other day with questions about Facebook. She did’t understand why her Facebook notifications were going to her email and why they were so frequent. I was very confused. I don’t remember Facebook notifications forwarding to my email, so it took me a minute to figure out what to do. I just had to walk her through her Facebook settings and disable notifications, which I guess I have also done at some point to my own account. I use social media so often that I don’t take the time to think about the steps I’m taking to change my settings or update my profile. When it comes time to explain and teach the process to others, it is easy to leave out information or resort to the, “you just do it because it’s how it is” explanation. The truth is, we don’t really know why we do what we do on social media; we just do it because it’s what you do.
These instances are only two of many, in which someone in my family has a question about social media. It’s not a problem, by any means. I can only hope my future kid or grandkid will do the same for me when I’m trying to figure out hovercrafts and holograms.