Most twenty somethings probably remember Facebook BP. Before Parents, that is. Or perhaps even BGP. Before Grandparents. When Mark Zuckerberg first launched Facebook on February 4th, 2004, it was intended for Harvard University students, but was later spread to a range of other American Universities. Before long, Facebook was the social network site to be on. So long, MySpace. Fast forward to 2013, and social media and the way we connect online has exploded: Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Tumblr, YouTube, Whatsapp, BBM, Vine, AskFM…and, yes, MySpace is still there (I’m told.) Facebook is still going strong, but the ages of it’s users has changed dramatically. Facebook isn’t just filled with college and university teenagers and twenty-somethings anymore: everyone from kids under the age of ten to people over sixty are using the website to connect with others and document their life.
The older generation often struggles to figure out how to work Facebook in the first place, and when they do they quickly populate it with constant shares of ‘Pray for this child’ statuses or inspirational quotes stuck over a picture of a candle. And hasn’t everyone had an older relative leave a completely random comment on one of your pictures asking how you are? THIS ISNT THE PLACE FOR IT, GRANDMA. For all the annoyances of older people on Facebook, it still is a great way to introduce older technophobes into the world of social networking and show them the benefits it creates. It’s a great way to reconnect with long lost friends and family, and to keep up with the lives of those who don’t live close by. And of course, to let everyone know what they’re up to. But it’s not just 40+ somethings slowly overtaking Facebook: it’s kids too. The children who were two years old when Facebook was first founded are now eleven, and it’s common to find them with their own profiles on many social networking sites, Facebook especially. Personally, I couldn’t begin to imagine the teenage drama having a Facebook account while I was in Secondary School would have created. The bullying and gossiping….yeah, no thanks.
The rate at which websites like Facebook have become an integral part of our life over the last several years is fascinating, and we now have a vast selection of ways to capture the important parts of our lives (and the not so important parts – so many, many Instagrams of food) and share them with the world.
But when Mark Zuckerberg first set out to create Facebook, surely he could never have predicted that it wouldn’t be used just by University students – instead people of every age would end up with a profile.