The above commercial for Coke Zero features an elderly man with his grandson drinking a Coke. Believing what he is drinking is the ‘same Coke’ he has drank for years, the grandfather doesn’t understand that this particular beverage is actually a new version of Coke. The grandson lets him go off on a tangent figuring his gramps simply doesn’t get it.
My question is whether social networking is completely lost on older generations? While some reports argue that the MySpace demographic is aging rapidly, I think this is a complete miscalculation: just look at how many users enter their age as the maximum – 99.
Driving with my parents recently, I was talking for the millionth time about social networks when my mother looks at my father and asks ‘I wonder what a social network looks like?’ This coming from parents who could name more social networks than most 20 year olds: they have heard about them, but never seen one in action.
The point is that no one has truly explained the value of social networking to my parents’ generation. To them, social networking is just an ambiguous concept, a thing the kids do on the computer.
In this way I see social networking kind of like snowboarding. When snowboarding first appeared, it was seen as a reckless pastime for young daredevils and certainly not as a viable (or profitable) alternative to skiing. Snowboarders were not allowed on the same trails and some mountains banned the sport outright.
Fast forward a 10-15 years and snowboarding is HUGE and now very well respected. My questions are many: how did this transition occur ‘â€œ was it exposure; information conquering stereotypes, or was it more of a ‘forced entry’ people came to accept? Will this same change occur for social networking as social media enters the workplace? Will concepts like Enterprise 2.0 make older generations see the light, or is it all simply a lost cause?