Lost in generational translation


Yes, we’ve all been social network raped (fraped), where one of your hilarious mates takes your phone/laptop and decides to update your page with some reference to how much you love male members and such. It’s all very amusing. In fact,  it’s happened to the best of us, including high-profile footballers.

But yesterday evening, things got a bit close to home. At around 7pm, my Mum called me out of the blue and her first words were “I’m going to speak now for 5 minutes, and you are going to hear me out, and then you can speak.” Scary stuff I thought – something terrible must have happened. A highly emotional rant followed, where my Mum told me she was very upset I announced I was a lesbian on Facebook, without telling my family first.

My Mum is on Facebook, but she’s got about 5 friends, and hasn’t logged in for months. In fact, it’s safe to say she’s a Facebook n00b. It transpired that an anonymous colleague at my Mum’s work had left a note on her computer letting her know that she’d heard I was a lesbian. Thanks a lot Anon. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I immediately knew what had happened, but I couldn’t get a word in edgeways.

The update in question was a frape from a few days ago, where a mate had updated my status with the following:

I then found myself in a situation where I had to explain what a “frape” was, which is pretty difficult: “It’s erm, funny, to update your mate’s status with something untrue or relating to genitals.” My Mum didn’t seem to get the joke.

Most people will say, just turn your privacy on. But that’s never bothered me. I don’t care if my Mum sees 100s of my drunken photos, neither do I care whether people at work see them. If I’ve added you as a friend on Facebook, you’re obviously close enough to me to see the inner workings of my life.

This is in contrast to many people who hide all manner of things from family and colleagues on Facebook. But now I’ve had to rethink my stance, and join the army of privacy nerds by controlling who sees what.

If you’ve got people out there far removed from your life stage and internet understanding, then it’s less about hiding and more about making sure what you have published doesn’t get taken as gospel. Many people believe we’re closing the generational divide with technology, so when our parents and grandparents start signing up for social networking accounts, we feel that maybe they are starting to “get it”. I don’t believe that. The generational divide will always be there, as it’s about context, not platforms – so I’m afraid they’ll always have a slight “Dad on the dancefloor” air about them.

So is this a new type of social censorship? A world where we have to censor who sees what not because of embarrassment of our behaviour, but because the technological divide has resulted in an older generation of tech-savvy, but context illiterate individuals?

Who knows.

If anything I hope this blog post has:

  1. made you smile on a Friday morning
  2. finally convinced my Mum I’m not a lesbian

PS. Yes, my profile image is of me in a pedobear costume. Please don’t tell my Mum who that is. KTHXBAI