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Baby Boomer, Social Media and Christmas Time by Peter and Roberta Budvietas

One would think that social media would make tracking down relatives, friends and colleagues easier, especially when you know that they are on that particular circuit. But is it?

In the lead-up to Christmas, I tried to track down some of my family.

Now, neither my married nor my maiden names are common. We’re not Smith or Jones or Chan.  Sure, the females might have changed names like I have, but it should be easy to track down some of the people I wanted to find. Yes, I discovered about thirty, but none of them were relatives, at least not relatives that I knew about, and I’m fairly sure I know most of those people related to me.

The exercise left me wondering why baby boomers are not easy to find through social media.

Think about it:

LinkedIn has been around since roughly 2002, and has 80 million members. Yet very few of my family appear to be members, including some very successful business people who use the Web regularly for networking.

Facebook has some 500 million members over the age of 13. I know that some of the people I wanted to find are among them. Again, these are people who have successful networks of people in place.

Twitter generates some 65 million tweets per day. Surely some are from the people I wanted to find?

Add the other social networks. They cover a very large percentage of westerners on the Web. Yet, I could find practically none of my target people!

One could conclude that baby boomers are not using the social networks that the networks comprise mostly Gen X and Gen Y/Millennials Or more precisely, Gen X and Gen Y use the social networks better.

I know that, when I joined LinkedIn, it was two years before I did more than set up my profile. Even now, I limit how much I use it. While I know of their power, I really don’t trust the social networks, not with personal information.

Talking with a few others (baby boomers, all) I know, it seems there are three main reasons why baby boomers, who make up a very large percentage of all the social networks, are hard to find on the Web:

    • Baby Boomers only trust small groups of people they know and do not readily connect or display their details through social media. More, they belong to a small number of groups, and don’t collect “friends” by the bushel-load.
    • Baby Boomers are cautious about putting out their personal details.
    • Baby Boomers don’t understand the “grammar” of txtspk. Oh, they know English (and other language) syntax, They can grasp how txtspk works in 140 character messages, but they prefer longer messages (like e-mail) and direct contact.

      As a Baby Boomer, I like social media but I use it cautiously and I use it far more than many other baby boomers that I know. The high presence on Social media is not an indication of high use. And lack of high use hides just how prevalent baby boomers are in the social media.

      Roberta is a keynote speaker, facilitator and mentor. You can find her through which links to her blogs, articles, ebooks and speaking.

      cc licensed flickr photo shared by jurvetson

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