Your mother is on Facebook. So is your father. If your grandparents have embraced the modern world, they may there, too. Let’s take a moment to consider just how strange this is.
When Facebook was created in 2004, you had to be a college student with a .edu address to even create a profile. It was a social network for the young and the hip, a place to organize parties and events, keep in touch with buddies and network in those perilous post-college years. That was eight years ago. Now, anyone with an internet connection can join Facebook and the social network has gone to great lengths to broaden its appeal and attempt to be for everyone. Although you can still plan a kegger on Facebook, your mom can also share photos of her cat with her friends. It’s a new world and everyone’s invited.
And it all goes beyond Facebook. The young people fled Facebook and migrated to Twitter, but that too has exploded in popularity, resulting in a social network as big and influential as any other (and your mom’s on Twitter as well). Young people the world over can cower in their Reddits and the Tumblrs, but the future is inevitable — every successful social network will eventually bend over backwards to appeal to the widest audience and pretty soon, your family and your peers will be able to see everything you say do on your social networks. There will be no more hiding. Internet anonymity still exists in various specialized forums, but the days of saying whatever you want on Twitter and Facebook without fear of repercussion are coming to an end…and perhaps it’s for the better.
First of all, other people holding you accountable for what you post goes a long way to keeping you from being a jerk. It’s as simple as that. You won’t go around being obnoxious if you knew your parents were watching (hopefully). Secondly, think of the children. Now, I don’t mean that in a pandering or overly dramatic way. I mean that in a “there are thousands of bad life lessons to learn on the internet so parents should be able to keep an eye on their kids” kind of way. Parents being on the same social networks as their kids will help stem the growing tide of douchebags. Sure, as they grow older, kids are going to strike out and see the horrible things that the internet has to offer and they’ll find their own corners to misbehave in, but at least they won’t be doing it under their name for an audience of millions.
I asked the Rocksauce Studios office how they felt about their social networks constantly being monitored by people they know in real life and if they’ve modified how they use them since mom or dad may be watching. Their responses:
John Gholson: I’m definitely aware of who’s looking, so I avoid posting profanity and overtly sexual content.
Q Manning: My Facebook feed isn’t public, so I can easily manage what people do and don’t see.
Guthrie Bunn: Once facebook was opened beyond .edu addresses, my usage went down. It was still getting a regular visit until it got messier with more games, postings of media, and other things that weren’t social connections. I stripped content once older generations started getting involved, and removed most of my things as time went on and desire to continue old relationships that didn’t really still exist depleted. I’m very careful any time I write something, and am more sensitive even about IM. Words are much easier to manipulate for nefarious or unintended ends when they’re not in person. Social networking makes every word not in person.
Nate Berman: While Facebook enhances our ability to communicate, it does not enhance our communication. I have removed myself from the Facebook community and reclaimed true face-to-face social interaction that Facebook takes from the world.
Blake Fernandez: I am always very cognizant of my social media presence, meaning that I do monitor “tags”, posted pictures, and comments. I definitely consider that my Mom or family may see particular posts and whatnot before I post anything borderline, so that does play a part, but I mainly just do it for professional and personal reasons. So to answer your question, I am more careful as a result of them being on my friends list though it has not swayed me to retreat to other social platforms, though I am a bit edgier on Twitter.