We have reached a stage in society where different social media outlets are suddenly being divided along lines of age. Looking back at people five or more years below you at school can be a scary process, not only because it’s astonishing to see how they’ve grown into adults, but because they have an entirely differently language, etiquette and output into their social media profiles.
Many will say that Instagram is now the remit for young people creating their first social media profiles, replacing a ground once safely secured by Facebook. In many ways, this can be seen as great; Instagram is a platform for people to post their pictures on, inspiring creativity, discerningness and more and more, a certain level of wit, channelled into the perfect ‘caption’.
Gone are the days where youths would post blurry and innocent pictures of their Saturday trips into the local town, replaced by carefully selected, finely tuned mirror selfies and constructed poses of groups of friends. This, of course, comes with a multitude of issues associated with the standardisation of ‘perfect’ and photoshopped faces and bodies, particularly amongst young girls.
Facebook is now the realm of the middle-aged; the parents of the children and teenagers glued to Instagram, making cringey jokes and status updates and loading their timelines with family photos. Where social media used to be exclusively the remit of the young, the association of Facebook with their parents is enough to deter many teenagers from using it too much, purely on principle.
Yet Facebook is very much not dead for young people. When teenagers leave home and go to university or jobs, there is a massive shift back – back from easy to access, individual-centred social media outlets such as Instagram, back to Facebook. The first weeks of university are overwhelming and nothing is as confidence boosting, as reassuring, as being able to contact the people you will be living with before you’re even there. Nothing is as helpful as being able to add people on Facebook when you meet them, so you can remember their name and contact them later if you find yourself alone.
When you’re established at university, it’s a way to keep group chats going, a place to put all of the photos of your amazing experiences, to advertise and post about various university societies. It is a place for the kind of self-expression that you find at university, something which can’t be found in a single Instagrammed photo. Instagram and Snapchat keep going, of course, but Facebook remains your base – and as you grow and leave university and travel, it will be the way you keep in touch with the lives of all the people you meet along the way; people from all over the world. Facebook is a place for those who are in contact with the world and will continue to be as long as social media maintains its place in our society.