The Curmudgeon and the Millennial

I admit it. I’m becoming a curmudgeon. But I love having a business where I can get the opportunity to work with and get the opinions of people who are younger (and smarter) than I am. Other than my dear husband, I have always been the oldest person in this organization. Just call me an old broad and curmudgeonly; I don’t mind. I need the balance of the naïve and fresh-minded. It refreshes my outlook and keeps me thinking and pondering and curious.

One of our staff people and I have had constant conversations and issues regarding the “millennial generation” (of which she is a member) vs. the old fart (baby boom) generation (yours truly).

“Wow, three more people liked an Instagram photo I posted today!” she exclaimed.

Which puzzled me.

Me: “Excuse me, I don’t get it. Why do you care? Does it matter so much to you that a few people liked a photo you posted?”

Her: “Well, we millennials are very much into sharing all of our experiences, and this is part of it.”

M: “Okay, I’m trying to understand. What exactly are you sharing that’s so important? A photo of something? Doesn’t that take you a lot of time every day, to take the photo, and post it? What good does that do for you except to give you a little ego boost? Why do you even care?”

H: “You have to understand; this is an important part of what I do every day. I’m definitely going to post online. Facebook is the first thing I look at every morning and the last thing I see at night.”

M: “You look at Facebook so much every day? [Moi, I’m lucky if I look at my personal Facebook page once a week]. Don’t you ever spend time reading books or listening to music, or doing other stuff that will actually contribute to your intellect and knowledge or your job or your relationship? Or help other people?”

H: “Well, that’s just how we live our lives.”

M: “In a year, or five years, or next week, or tomorrow, who’s going to care anything about what or you ‘share’ on Facebook or Instagram? Is anyone going to care about it? Is that activity going to make the world a better place or you a better person?”

H: “You just don’t understand and appreciate us! It’s part of our generation that we want to share our feelings with everyone! If that’s how you feel, then why does OffBeat have a Facebook page?!?”

M: “I understand the need to reach and communicate with a lot of different age groups who are interested in OffBeat’s subject matter; how we communicate it has to include social media—we have no choice. But our Facebook and other social media is focused on a mission that takes a lot of knowledge and research. We’re posting news on what we’ve chosen to concentrate on. This is a business—it’s become part of the way you have to do business.”

I must admit, I can see the need for “sharing” with friends (if they really are friends, and let’s face it who has a thousand real friends?). But spending so much time every single day looking at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. to me is nothing but a huge time suck. I have a lot better things to do and a lot of things that take a lot of time in my day. And why does one care if one person or a thousand likes your post or not? Why does anyone need the acknowledgment that they are liked or not?

I get it within a business context and advertising. Yeah, I can see that. Eyes supposedly mean that your message is getting out there (personally I don’t see social media working wonders for small businesses in increasing their revenues). I just can’t comprehend the self-absorbedness and–in some ways–the desperation to be loved and paid attention to that social media addicts crave. It’s sort of like remaining a perpetual adolescent, when you care incredibly much what your friends think of you and you’ll do anything to get attention. Maybe I’m wrong, but isn’t that It’s one of the things that adults tend to leave behind. Adults usually have more to worry about than caring what social media network “friends” think of you.

Social media may have created a great way to get the word out about an event, and I suppose that broad (mostly unknown) network is what makes  that doable. Hpwever, maybe millennials could improving their lives and relationships by practicing social skills vis a vis real people. Would it be helpful to spend less time on social media and more time reading or really participating in real life; less time taking selfies and gawking at photos of themselves and their friends and more time doing something productive that’s going to actually make a positive personal change and in the community and world. Unless your social media is going to change the world in way that doesn’t necessarily include the self-absorbed “you”: get a life. There’s a real world out there that needs you. Yes, it’s about “us” and “you” but isn’t it more useful becoming a real person rather than a cog in a social network?



  • JohnInTucson

    A lot of the time, this reminds me of standing in the hall at junior high school before class just bullshitting. But several recent uses of social media reminded me of its value.

    On a recent visit to New Orleans, we visited with a friend who works for a small non-profit. She was headed off to India for a month for yoga training. A few days later, back in Tucson, we see her post on Facebook many beautiful pictures of her environment in India. I’ve been working in technology for 25 years but this was definitely a “gee whiz” moment for me. Just wonderful to see.

    A friend we met in New Orleans a year or two ago (and who volunteers at Offbeat among other places) stays with an artist friend who lives on Royal. I sent a Facebook friend request to our friend’s friend. The new friend sees the fabulous Doreen Ketchens regularly set up and play on Royal. The new friend posted a video of Doreen. Our friends in Philadelphia are fans of Doreen. I shared the video on their timeline. They really enjoyed seeing it.

    My cousin in Northern California is Facebook friends with Candye Kane. My cousin shared a Facebook post with me about a gig Candye is playing in Tucson that we were not aware of and are now likely to attend.

    Tweets and Facebook posts from WWOZ have alerted me to things on the air right now and I’ve been able to tune in online and catch them. I can’t really listen all the time so these are things I would have missed.

    Before social media was so prominent, folks used to send jokes and other tidbits around to their friends via email. I recall reading a commentary on this phenomenon that pointed out that it wasn’t really the joke that was important – it was just a way for the sender to say to one or several friends – hey, I’m still alive and I was thinking about you.

    So yeah, a lot of it is a waste of time. But as an old guy (older than our favorite curmudgeon), I have come to see the value in much of this stuff. It’s like the internet itself – plenty of crap, but lots of value for the finding.