Recently, I read an article at ZDNet regarding a study from Forrester and the different generations’ behaviors at work. One of the more interesting tidbits was around the generations’ social media behaviors. The article states:
Generation Y use less social networking for work. The survey showed that 40% use social media for business, unlike 50% of those 55 and above who do.
At first, this sounds backwards, but as I reflected upon the statement, it makes perfect sense. Generation Y is the Facebook Generation.
I recall being a senior in college when Facebook came to our campus, and it was solely for college students (you needed an edu email address to register). Previous to that, AOL Instant Messenger’s status updates were how we knew what our friends were up to that night , or how upset they were with their boyfriend or girlfriend!
Facebook became more and more popular, and by the end of my senior year, they were allowing high school students to register – disappointing, but forgivable. After all, they were kids; we were still the big dogs of Facebook.
After I graduated, I checked Facebook every now and again, but it was a remnant from college. As I entered the professional workforce, I knew it was important to put childish things aside and focus on my career. All my party pictures, ridiculous status updates, and wild friends remained locked in the “Facebook Vault” forever…or so I thought.
One day, a year or two later, I received an email stating that a certain person (I’ll call her Julie Roberts) wanted to add me as a friend on Facebook. “Julie Roberts”, I thought to myself, “Did I have class with her?” I couldn’t recall. So I logged on to Facebook and lo and behold, it was a senior level co-worker! I was mortified. My first thought was:
“Oh my god…adults are on Facebook now.”
My second: “What do I do?” I couldn’t ignore the request – I worked with her after all. And I didn’t want her to have full access, I had no idea what drunken pictures had been tagged of me. Panicked, I began to feverishly go through all of my pictures and delete any that were even the least bit questionable (granted, at this time, I hadn’t been up-to-date enough with Facebook to know about the privacy changes.)
Finally, I was at a point to accept the request, and at that moment, Facebook was real again. It was the moment where college and real life intersected, and it was a bad feeling.
Since then, I’ve become very savvy with Facebook’s privacy settings, and still am somewhat hesitant to allow co-workers to come into my Facebook circle. Not because I don’t want them to know what’s going on in my life, or that I don’t care what’s going on in theirs – it’s just very bittersweet. At one time, Facebook was Gen Y’s playground and we could do or say whatever we wanted because no “adults” were allowed. Now that time has passed and it’s a bit sad.
So..yes, Forrester study, it makes perfect sense that Gen Y isn’t fully embracing social media for work. We’re not ready to concede just yet. We want our Facebook back.