Thursday, July 19, 2007

Facebook for the AARP Crowd?

Have your parents or grandparents ever heard you talking about Facebook and quaked with jealousy? Well, now they can jump aboard the online social networking train themselves.

Boomj is the latest in what appears to be a burgeoning industry of MySpace-style sites for Baby Boomers and "Generation Jones." (I've never heard of it before, but apparently Generation Jones is the generation of "unfulfilled expectations" born in the 1950s and 1960s. Perhaps a social networking site will finally complete them.)

You must be at least 30 years old to join Boomj and the site will be teeming with features from blogging to online gaming to video uploading. But is this something the over-40 set even wants? I could be wrong, but I don't think my parents' generation is itching to create and maintain a profile, confirm their online "friendships" and engage with their "friends" in online activities. It's enough of an effort to get Generation Jones to regularly check their e-mail.

This brings to mind another question I've often pondered: Will I ever outgrow Facebook? Most users (myself included) joined the site while they were in college and have continued to use it in the post-baccalaureate years. At worst, it's juvenile, addictive and time-consuming. At best, it's an ingenious way to keep in touch with friends and share news and information with them. By giving users the power to create Facebook applications, both the best and the worst elements of the site have been magnified. I just wonder if updating my Facebook profile will still be on my radar when I'm chasing toddlers and my hair starts to gray.

Will I have a Facebook album devoted to each one of my children? Will Facebook begin alerting me to friends' wedding anniversaries in addition to birthdays? Will my interests start to include the names of the medications I'm currently taking? If the site lasts long enough to celebrate its 50th anniversary, there could be Facebook networks devoted entirely to local nursing homes.

Maybe one day I'll wake up and realize that I'm too old for Facebook. Or maybe it will remain a part of my daily routine and continue to help me manage my relationships (and play a lot of long-distance online Scrabble). Just wait for the alert that I have arthritically poked you.

1 comment:

Janice R. said...

Even though Generation Jones isn't nearly as well known as the long-establsihed Baby Boomers, I think BOOMj's focus on Jonesers will actually be the key to their success (if they succeed, that is--a big "if"). Point is that this is not just another site for Boomers, this is the first big site for Boomers and Generation Jones, and that is a huge distinction.

Generation Jones (the long-lost generation between the Boomers and Xers, born 1954-1965, 26% of all U.S. adults) has been receiving huge media attention in Western Europe, and now increasingly in the U.S. Boomers and Jonesers were both born during the post-WWII 20-year boom in births, but they were raised with very different experiences, which is why so many credible organizations and individuals have been validating the GenJones concept, and spending big chunks of cash targeting Jonesers in business and politics.

What I see as most significant in this new BOOMj site is that it is taking the offline buzz and interest in GenJones and giving it a home online. If BOOMj succeeds, I’d bet it will be largely because of their seperating Jonesers from Boomers.