“Mom, you’re a Facebook snob.”
This is a real statement, said by a 34-year-old to her Baby Boomer mom, right in front of me. The conversation started because the mom hadn’t accepted a friend request from the daughter’s friend’s mom.
“It takes so long for you to accept a friend request!” the daughter complained. “Just accept her. Just accept her!”
The dialogue struck me as funny, mainly because, well, I don’t think of Baby Boomers using Facebook.
Just like I didn’t think accountants used Facebook.
It turns out, I was wrong.
I’ve run across more Baby Boomers on the site and have gotten more friend requests from my parents’ friends (most I accept reluctantly, though some I admit, I ignore) than I think reasonable. And to hear the “older” adults use Facebook speak – it’s unthinkable. I don’t know about you, but to be “thrown a snowball at” by a neighborhood lady I grew up with who pinched my cheeks and called me “Lizzy” doesn’t really make me want to be her friend more.
Perhaps it’s me who needs to be welcomed into the new generation.
While researching my Jan. 26 story on social networking for Accounting Today and being around my family for the holidays, I realized Facebook is a tool that Baby Boomers actually, enjoy. It gives them a chance to reconnect with old friends, put photos up and see what their kids are doing. I’ll hear, “yeah, I found so and so on Facebook, I haven’t talked to that guy since Homecoming ’64.”
The Baby Boomers are onboard. And baby, they are here to stay.
And now, here come the accountants.
For those who think CPAs are technologically behind, here’s a reality check. Many CPAs have caught on to the phenomenon and are loving it. Facebook, despite its early intent of connecting college students, is bridging people from all generations in a way that’s new, different and exciting. I see this in my own life when I’m leaning over my dad and his laptop and he’s asking me how to find old friends and upload photos to the site.
The question, however, becomes – how do you navigate around your personal and professional life, especially when you may want to keep the two separate? Which leads me to my next question: is it possible in our crazy virtual culture to even do that?
I think you can.
You just have to be careful. If you don’t want professional contacts to find you on Facebook use common sense. Don’t tell them you’re on and even more obvious, don’t sign up for a profile with your work email account. If someone finds you, graciously explain to them that you prefer to keep your professional life separate from your personal life and give them other ways to contact you. I use LinkedIn for people in my accounting community and Facebook, well, for everybody else. Is there some overlap? Sure, but I get to choose where the lines cross.
That’s the key. Make Facebook (or any social networking site for that matter) work for you. This phenomenon isn’t a generational thing even though it’s disguised as one.
Take for example a story I heard from a marketing director who told me a partner was thrilled with Facebook because when his daughter lost her wallet, the person who found it looked her up and located her on the site.
Of course, you have to be careful, too. Consider the partner who found out an employee was pregnant because her status update (a message that is typed in under your name telling your “friends” what you are doing in any particular moment) said so. That could have been an uncomfortable situation, but many in the firm already knew of the news.
My point is this: social networking is a new wave of excitement and the enthusiasm is coming from all ages. Embrace the technology, welcome the change and watch the communication across all generations grow. Then of course, write Accounting Tomorrow and tell us all about it.
Look for Accounting Tomorrow’s Facebook profile in the near future. We’ll make an announcement when it launches, don’t worry. And yes, we’ll befriend you.