Pen and soft pastel. Original illustration at Note Couture, Carrie Collection.
I recently joined facebook. Not because I have an affinity with technology or even wanted to be on it. In fact, I've always been an avid anti-facebooker. It was just that, with my family all (well mostly) living up north, and my best friend overseas, it was just an easier way to keep in touch with all the people that I love. Once I joined I noticed something interesting. Facebook is a perfect place to study human behaviour. Immediately upon sending a "friend" request to my 3 nieces I was accepted onto their pages. And I am talking seconds here - literally within less than a minute of me sending the request I was a friend. Heck - I thought - they must live on the computer. I realised later that they were probably accessing Facebook from their phones. Not being a savvy facebooker I didn't realise that any messages they were posting to anyone, not just me, would be automatically posted onto my page as recent news. And along with those messages, the replys of their friends were suddenly also there for me to see. I was hit with a machine gun barrage of teenage gobbledegook. I think one was talking about her driving test, one was fighting with a friend and the third was just - well, I'm not sure really.
The older generations took longer. Those of my generation took a day or two to accept me as a friend, after finding a minute between work and children to check their facebook page. My parent's generation took between a few days and a week during their weekly check-in of their friends, children and grandchildren.
After about a week of viewing and posting the odd comment, I noticed some interesting patterns in dialogue. The teenagers were happy, then sad, then happy again, then confused, then bored, then angry, then hated, then liked again, etc. They talked about their social life and what (and who) was (or wasn't) important and why. Life was confusing and emotional and they were the centre of the universe. I didn't know how completely out of touch with adolescence I was until I was trying to decipher some comments from my nieces and was venting my frustration by growling "What on earth is that girl talking about", and Miss Too-Young-To-Be-On-Facebook who was (unknowing to me) standing behind me, started to translate. Occasionally I saw someone posting about how boring the class they were in at that second was. I supressed the urge to suggest that the classroom was possibly not the best place to text a comment to your facebook page, but then I didn't want to be blocked from my niece's page.
The 20ers talked mainly about their social life. They were either on their way up or down the coast, on their way out somewhere special, coming home from somewhere special, or commenting the morning after something special. Sometimes they were looking forward to something special. Work was never mentioned which led me to wonder how they could afford to go to all these special places. They were finished with study (I don't seem to have any uni students as friends yet), earning money, had no commitments, were 10 feet tall and bullet proof, and were still the centre of the universe.
30's and 40ers still talked about what they were doing but included family and children in the conversation. They were definitely no longer the centre of the universe - their children were. Mothers of babies talked mainly about whether or not they got any sleep.
50ers and above hardly comment at all. Maybe they're out having a life.........