Editor’s note: this post comes to us from Lindsey over at The Professional Intern
Being part of the first generation to grow up surrounded entirely by social media is an interesting position for me to occupy. It’s especially interesting given the fact that my brothers and sisters are much older than I am. They arrived at the tail end of generation X and dial-up Internet was as good as it got for them during their formative years. I think that gave us radically different perspectives. For me, growing up with social media saturation has been a very positive thing. One of the differences between my siblings and me is the way we view social media and the extent to which we’ve integrated it into our lives.
Social Media Integration
Generation X and Y use social media very differently. Generation Y finds a digital world a comfortable environment to navigate. We’re at ease with tweeting, liking and hitting the +1 button, and we communicate well in that medium. That may be one of the reasons we find online school an attractive option and use LinkedIn intuitively for professional networking. My older siblings have become semi-competent with social media, but there is a dramatic difference in how we use it. If I tend to be comfortable traversing the digital landscape, they seem to prefer analog.
They use Facebook in a very compartmentalized way. For them, Facebook represents a convenient way to exchange gossip and that’s about it. It’s the same with Skype. They use it to chat with my grandma, uncles and aunts. I tend to use it most heavily in the office to communicate and collaborate with colleagues. I use it to make my job more efficient. They use it to socialize. I think that’s a big difference between the two generations. Their social construction as Gen X’ers seems to prevent them from really integrating social media into their lives in a meaningful way. While I used my LinkedIn profile to leverage a job, they’re finding the notion of professional networking hard to grasp. And forget about Twitter. I’m so plugged into social media that I find it difficult to grasp that my oldest brother gets his news from network television at six o’clock every evening.
Generation Y Influencing the Work Force
As my generation is gradually becoming a larger chunk of the work force, I’ve noticed the big impact we’re beginning to have. Rather than viewing our tendency to integrate social media into our lives—even on the job—as a negative, companies are starting to understand the benefits. It’s a typical Gen X perspective to view social media use on the clock as a sort of shirking or laziness. But what we bring to the table as social media gurus represents an entirely different skill set. We can tend to be extremely well informed about everything. And if we don’t know a particular fact, we know where to find it in about five seconds. That’s a different skill set than gen X tends toward. The nice thing is that the business community is beginning to understand that our social media sophistication isn’t a liability; it’s innovative.