I’m sensitive to news releases that focus on the Boomer and After Fifty generation. So when Yahoo! News ran a piece about Boomers and Facebook’s new Timeline (Facebook Timeline feature unpopular, especially among Boomers) I honed right in on it. I read for 5 seconds when I saw the caption on a user map accompanying the article. Are you ready? Here’s what the caption says. “Breaking news: Old people don’t like change.”
I beg your pardon? Old people?? Not liking change?? How ignorant, how bigoted, and how absolutely wrong can one be. Who’s supposedly old? And change? Whaddya mean, we don’t like it?
Let’s take the “like” part, first. According to US Census data, Boomers and After Fiftiers comprise approximately 38% of the US resident population (about 113,000,000 people). If we were to take the Yahoo! News caption at face value, you would expect that Boomers and After Fiftiers would be under-represented online as well as in social media. After all, using technology represents change, but, according to Yahoo!, that’s something we don’t like. Yet, as of the 12 weeks ending January 28, 2012, we old folks represent 43% of the online population. Yup, Yahoo!, proportionally, there are more Boomers and After Fiftiers online than our younger counterparts! And as for social media, we rock! Remember, we’re 38% of the US population – yet 59% of those using Linkedin are in our generation. As to other social media outlets, here are the stats (ending January 28, 2012): Facebook, 39%; Google+ 33%; and Twitter, 29%.
We like AND we adopt change. Case closed. What we don’t like is being forced to do something which, based on our maturity, experience, and wisdom, is a bad idea. Forcing Timeline upon users is a bad idea. It may be a cool feature, but Facebook shouldn’t play god. We can see the damage this feature can propagate. It should be our choice – and if you don’t give us choice, well, someone else will recognize this market opportunity and provide that choice to us!
Now let’s take the “old” part. Yes, it’s true. Being 50 or 60 is not as youthful as being 20 or 30. In other words, being 50+ is not green and untested. But it’s not shriveled and dried out, either. To assume so is a huge mistake. Haven’t you heard? “50 is the new 40, 60 is the new 50!”
So,Yahoo! News, shame on you. By allowing this statement to appear on your pages, you foster and encourage a form of discrimination that’s insidious. And, along with that, it’s just plain false.