Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Trend Watch: Millennials "Unplugging" from Social Media

This is Emmet. He's a senior in college. At the moment this picture was snapped, he was deleting his Facebook page. Full disclosure: he's my son, which is why I was privy to the shot of him in the first place. Never mind that he's in his PJs. What's going on here is serious. He's cutting away from his digital tribe. He's unplugging a carefully-crafted online persona. Because let's fess up, aren't all our social media profiles small fictions?

Why did he do it?

He found that maintaining a "shadow self" on Facebook was getting tiresome, he said. It's hard enough managing one identity in real life, I guess, let along another in cyberspace.

Then there's the bottom-line to be factored in here. He'll be looking for a job soon. Emmet never friended me. Deadly for a dude to friend his Mom, methinks. So I have no idea what horsing around pictures ended up on his Facebook wall. I do know this. He's graduating with a liberal arts degree in a cut-throat job market. Despite being published at 20, and attending a notable college, entering the job market right out of college is daunting in these times. He doesn't need the extra burden of his Facebook history telling his story for him to a potential employer.

So, is "unplugging" a trend worth watching?

Will more Millennials unplug to protect their real identities from scrutiny from potential employers?

Or are we witnessing burn out from being "always on"?

And then again, maybe it's just my kid.

What are you seeing?


Tony Tallent said...

I have a FB friend who recently took down her site for similar reasons. She was struggling with being-on all the time. She then felt lost and disconnected from this world that had become a big part of her social life (read: what to I do with my spare time, and all the spare thoughts). After what sounded like quite a bit of soul searching (it really did sound like soul searching, even though that may sound a bit over the top for a decision that seems so simple)she reinvented her FB presence. We'll see where this goes

Patricia Martin said...

Thanks, Tony.

"what to I do with my spare time, and all the spare thoughts" is a great insight. Does this generation now need a place to express themselves?

My prediction is that like cleaning your room, or wiping the slate clean, it gives a person the emotional elbow room to reconsider themselves. Time will tell...

nick said...

Great post and one I'll be linking to on my blog, theYmightier.com. If you'd ever like to submit a guest post for the blog, you can do so here - http://bit.ly/he5frN.