My Mum is Obsessed with WhatsApp: Is Social Media Growing Up?


social media

When it comes to social media or anything digital, all the focus has been on the early adopters – the millennials. But when Boomers and Generation X gets addicted to it, is it a sign that social media is finally growing up? Or is it just that social media, or digital in general, has been over-looking this savvy generation of digital consumers? They want something that is easily accessible, makes their lives easier, and flexible enough to adapt to their individual needs.

Like Ma (and Pa). They are on Facebook, ‘friends’ with their daughters, friends, former colleagues and the domestic help; follow me on Twitter; urge me to keep Skype on 24/7; have always used email, of course; addicted to their Sky Plus box; and now WhatsApp. 

“Why did you not reply to me?” asked Ma this afternoon.

“I am calling you now.”

“No, I sent you a message on WhatsApp.”

“I was busy, Ma.”

“You were online, your status said so.”

“Of course I was online. I was working,” I whined. 

“Do you know Aunty G’s daughters share everything with her on WhatsApp. You do know it’s free and instant. How much do you spend on average, on these calls to India every week? Use WhatsApp and just like Aunty G’s daughters you can share what you had for lunch every day.”

There is a relevance to this conversation. Demonstrates how the over 50s want the digital life to be an extension of themselves, want technology to reflect their values, and help them express their beliefs in a way that enrich their lives. 

There is also an almost unexpected quality to the use of social media here. 

For the Millennials, social media is about being always ‘on’; about trying something new and shiny; and the need to have a cohort that they can trust at a time when governments, financial institutions and religion are not deemed credible enough. However for the baby boomers and Gen X it does not mean the allure of something dazzling, but the purpose and promise of THEIR world becoming a better world. 

Time for a brave marketer to closely watch how this generation is influencing social media. 

And no Ma, I am not joining your group where all your friends share their medical reports. Think I can do without my phone waking me up to update me about Aunty G’s bowel movements. 


About singhspeak

Views on marketing, advertising, and sometimes politics

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