I’m a student, so I like to think that I am pretty up to date on the latest and greatest trends in media and technology. A few nights ago, I’m sitting in my room, checking out the latest and greatest offerings from Context Clothing, jamming to some Sufjan Stevens, when all of the sudden, I hear a noise that we all know and love – the sound of a new Facebook chat. I tab over to Facebook, and I see a new chat from .... my mom.
She got an account several years ago at the insistence of one of her friends, but I didn’t think she actually used it. And I definitely didn’t expect her to Facebook chat me from downstairs.
“Hi Dill…” she wrote.
“Hi mom…” I responded.
“Aren’t I funny?
This entire episode only lasted a minute or so. Nevertheless, it made me realize something: in 2010, social networking transformed from a trend to an integral part of our everyday lives.
I joined Twitter on October 28, 2008. At the time, I was an avid fan of the podcast Diggnation, starring Digg.com founder Kevin Rose and former TechTV star Alex Albrecht. The two would always talk about the things that they saw on Twitter; so I decided that I would make a Twitter account to keep up with both of them. At the time, Twitter was reserved the true techies and hipsters. No one at my school had ever heard of it.
Everyone had Facebook, but Twitter? Psh.
I tweeted away for a number of months, before deciding that my life was not interesting enough for others to read about. So, I took a Twitter hiatus, and checked it irregularly for a number of months. Last month, when I job shadowed at CultureMap, I got to spend some time with the lovely social media editor Fayza Elmostehi. She taught me the ins and outs of social media as it relates to CultureMap; naturally, I was inspired to start tweeting again.
When I logged back on, I was shocked to find that, in my absence, Twitter had become mainstream. All of my high school friends were on Twitter now, posting things like “I hate school” and “Obama is going to steal my AK-47 and my BMW.” In addition, major companies in industries ranging from finance to food service now had Twitter accounts.
Twitter was not the only social network to grow in 2010: On multiple occasions, Americans visited, and spent more time on, Facebook than they did Google. Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake starred in Aaron Sorkin’s critically acclaimed film The Social Network, which told the story of Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg.
On Nov. 2, the business-minded social networking site LinkedIn reached the 80-million member mark.
The reality is that social networking is no longer reserved for techies and teenagers. Not only does my mom Facebook chat me, but my friend’s aunt spends at least three hours per day playing Farmville. In fact, according to iStrategyLabs, the number of Facebook users in the 55-plus demographic grew by 922.7 percent this year.
What does all this mean? 2010 was the year of the social network, and now, everyone is Tweeting and Facebooking everything from their thoughts on Justin Bieber to where they are having dinner. Our phones are rarely used for actually calling people — they are devices for texting, tweeting and e-mailing.
I think that, in 2011, we will see social networking continue to assert its position as a significant part of our lives. Regardless, I refuse to let my mom get a Twitter.
Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of articles CultureMap will be running this last week of 2010 on The Year in Culture. The stories in this series will focus on a few key points, things that struck our reporting team about the year rather than rote Top 10 lists or bests of.
Other The Year In Culture stories: