August 13, 2012

Battle of the Sexes? No, no, it’s Battle of the Ages

I’m laughing. Mainly because I still find it quite funny how seriously people take this new (cough) concept of social media. To point where it’d be abnormal if there wasn’t some sort of  big panicky debate surrounding it (is it useful? should we be on Facebook or Twitter? is it a short-lived trend? How much money do we spend on it? is it a fad?) but the firm favourite at the moment is ‘who makes the best community manager?’. Nothing to do with skills of the individual or being a talented communicator or having some common sense, actually, what it apparently boils down to is age. Rather specific ages as well, so I’ve read.

Social media has become a part of our daily lives, habits and even identity. It’s something we participate in for social reasons, first and foremost. It’s an effective, speedy way of communicating. Old means of communications have died out slightly, it’s not anything crazy or pioneering or mind-blowing it’s just the way the world works. We ditch stuff if it doesn’t work anymore.  Just like the telegram is now decease, we’ve changed platforms to get our messages across in a more efficient way. We go on Facebook when we used to watch TV, we tweet our friends instead of writing it on MSN messenger, we forgot about MySpace, we can’t be arsed to write letters anymore, our pen pals now live online, we go on Spotify instead of buying CD’s, fax machines suck and advertising billboards are bad for the environment and a waste of money. Radio is clinging on cos we are lazy and like listening without moving. It’s just society’s evolved and the way we communicate has too. SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT SOMETHING NEW AND SCARY. Same thing. Different Platform. Next year we might be recording short videos of ourselves to sent to friends because we’ll be glued to 5 screens and the pub feels too far away. Stuff changes. But regardless of age, we all know how to hold a conversation and get on with people (hopefully). 

I’ve read two ridiculous articles over the last few weeks. I just find them funny because they are linkbait to the extreme and the sites they have been plonked on are probably rubbing their hands with glee as the comments roll in. Furious commenters, left right and center, all ruffling their feathers……

So in the blue corner we have Catheryn Sloane who wrote the (brave) article on NextGen: “Why Every Social Media Should Be Under 25″.  This, as you might imagine, did not go down well at ALL with any human-being over 25. It had broad sweeping statements in it. It tried to make the connection between young people being better because we’ve been on Facebook longer. Fatal error. Yes, we are quite techy at times and we might have a few tricks up our sleeve, but I tell you – I work in a big social media firm – and it would be nothing wihout the older, wiser, EXPERIENCED workers who tell us what we need to know. If that office was full of kids on a big free-for-all trying to convert their years of Internet use during childhood into advice for global clients, all hell would break loose. It’s just not the same. I’m not saying we are bad and don’t know our stuff, quite the contrary, but when it comes to business objectives and advice – you need the big guys there who know their shit. Taking their year’s of knowledge of the business and our knowledge of emerging platforms, social networking and technology- hooray we get a lovely combination of brains.

Now this leads me on to the article I stumbled across today in the red corner: “11 Reasons Why a 23-year-old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media”. What is happening? Why are crazy writer people coming at us with such loud sweeping statements? Would we ever publish something saying ‘any dentist under 34 is incapable of their job?’ or ‘anyone over 22 should be sacked from modelling?’ Each bullet point in this article is like an actual bullet going through my head. Point 1 is that we’re not mature enough, which is completely subjective to an individual. In fact, I’m not going to through all the points (I was going to, line by line) because some one them I believe are only in there to get a fire going. I will step away. 

Both these articles are so ageist they make my brain swirl. Everyone is different. I’ve met 22 year old’s who sit at home reading and like their early nights. I’ve met 40 year old’s who go clubbing every night and go to more festivals than I do. We don’t live in a textbook world and we never have done, so why do people assume so much on silly exteriors?

Here’s my article I wrote a while ago for the Conversation called ‘Age in the Workplace’ which sums up my views. The opening paragraph includes this quote by Yoko Ono: “Some people are old at 18 and some are young at 90… time is a concept that humans created.” I just kind of love that quote. 

I believe we need all ages and all mentalities to make things work the best they can.

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