Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Social Media for Old People

I remember being 16 (um, I mean 21) going to shows in DC and smirking at the “old” people lurking like they had any business hanging with a bunch of teenagers. How pathetic, my friends and I would say—don’t they realize they are OLD and don’t belong here? It just seemed so depressing that they had no life other than trying to blend in with a bunch of kids half their age.

Ok, so yes, I have since been that pathetic grown up at a club trying to act like I belonged there…but I digress.

Today it seems like the world—including the business world—is being led by the “younger set” (30 and under), putting “old” people like me (older than 30…to put it mildly) in a weird place. You don’t want to be the wannabe “cool” parent who’s “down” with the times and all that, but in this day and age, it appears that not doing just that could ultimately cripple your career.

For example, I was writing a news item at work this morning and linking to a story on a well-known website. There, below the title was the now-requisite row of icons: little leaf, “f” in a blue box, little cartoon baby face, little orange square—you know, the ones that appear somewhere on more and more web pages of all kinds. Some of these things I already know—the orange square means RSS (although the reader part is still a little sketchy to me), the “f” stands for Facebook, and I know the terms Digg and technorati even if I can’t describe to you exactly what they mean. In fact, I use them in my blog and STILL can’t really tell you what they mean.

Newsvine, Del.icio.us, Reddit, Flock, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Skype…the list seems to grow every day. List, that is, of applications/technologies/whatever you want to call them that are second nature to kids and 20-somethings yet are mysteries to almost anyone who isn’t hip to that particular lingo, so to speak. These things are not just fads like Tamagotchi or something; they are being used more and more in the marketing and business worlds. In fact, if you subscribe to the theory that social marketing is the wave of the future that will crush traditional marketing as we know it, you know that if you don’t start learning about this stuff and fast, you stand a good chance of becoming a dinosaur in the work world.

I’m taking my own advice here and diligently teaching myself about all things social media and web 2.0 and beyond. Yes, it’s interesting and yes, I do like feeling that I’m witnessing first-hand the changing of the guards from Boomers to Millennials. However, it’s hard to not feel a little like the grown up who’s trying too hard to be a kid—what with my Facebook page and Twitter posts. It’s like playing Webkinz—ok, here I am, in my pet’s room and I’ve made the bed, bought some food and some new clothes—now what?

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