Laughing at Facebook’s “Older” Users

    October 9, 2007

Over the weekend I saw the New York Times article about how college users of Facebook were laughing at those of us who are, um, “older.”

Scott Karp jumped in and cheered on that point of view and says “…the issue is that so many “adults” fell for Facebook’s ploy to convince them that they should adopt a toy built for college kids as a platform for their professional networking objectives.”

Ahh, but I was at Sun Microsystems in a meeting with some of their folks and some folks from Dow Jones. Interesting facts: more than 10% of Sun’s employees are on Facebook already (keep in mind that most of that growth started after the app platform was released just a few months ago). Same with Siemens. Same with Microsoft. And nearly every company I search Facebook for has thousands of employees: Lockheed Martin, which is where my dad worked for 30 years, has 3,700 employees on Facebook already.

Fred Stutzman puts the punctuation on these two articles, along with another one by Fred Vogelstein, with a post of his own titled “Opposing Opinions of Facebook.”

So, why the disconnect?

Well, first there’s some myths of business networking:

Myth One: that business networking needs to be cold and dispassionate.

Myth Two: that business networking never includes personal stuff like religion, sports, politics, or your favorite TV show or book.

Myth Three: that business requires a “networking” affordance.

Myth Four: that business requires getting rid of the college kids and their frat parties.

All of these are totally false. But lots of people believe them to be true, which is why we’ll see more articles like the one in the New York Times on Friday.

How will we know that the discovery phase of Social Networking is over? When we stop seeing these kinds of stupid rifts. Do we argue about whether it’s young or old or cool or smart to use a business card? No, I had them in college. I have them now. Never even thought of arguing about that. Someday we’ll just use Facebook and we’ll all get along. Until then, phhhhhhhhbbbbbttttttt to all you college students who think I’m ruining Facebook!