Analyzing Facebook's Generational Gap

By: Hudson Carrol

As a collection of classes, seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen are often separated in many facets of Gilman school life; that being said, students tend to be relatively connected outside of school through social media. Over the last couple of years, however, many students have shifted away from their original social media outlet, Facebook. This increasing disinterest in Facebook has created a generational divide of sorts between the student body: those who use Facebook and those who do not.

This year’s senior class seems to be the last class with a majority of students using Facebook, although a few juniors, sophomores, and freshmen still have accounts. As a dying app among Gilman students, Facebook has been replaced by Twitter and Instagram among juniors and underclassmen. In years past, Facebook was an easy way to communicate with students about important events and dates coming up in the Gilman calendar, but it has been harder to talk about these occasions due to the dropoff in the app’s use. This is part of the reason School President Matt Tomaselli (‘17) utilizes a new texting system, Remind, to make students aware of certain events such as sports games with a quick buzz on their phones and a brief notification.

Clearly, this system has been vastly superior to the former Facebook system in that sports teams have generated much larger student-driven support than in previous years. If Facebook use continues to decline, it is likely that the new texting system or another form of social media such as Instagram or Twitter will take over as the primary form of communication for the student body.

Senior Ben Murphy spoke about the obvious gap, saying, “There is definitely a generational gap between Facebook and Instagram. Most kids in college only use Facebook, not Instagram. Kids in high school don’t even have Facebook, just Instagram, and people my age are in between the two.” Juniors have also taken notice of the stark contrast in the usage of different types of social media. When asked about if he believed there was a strict gap in social media, junior Teddy Mcfarlane commented, “Older people tend to have both while younger generations typically do not have Facebook.” Ben Murphy also weighed the importance of organizational features, saying, “Facebook events can be helpful, but most people just text in group chats rather than on Facebook.”

Matt agreed with Ben entirely and decided early on in his presidency that Facebook would not be an effective means of communication with the student body. Understanding the difficulties of communication with underclassmen and juniors through Facebook, Matt commented that, “Past presidencies have used the Facebook page really, really heavily for relaying information. It was Facebook and email before that, but I knew coming in that every grade below me uses Facebook less and less, and the lower the grades are, the less use of Facebook there is. I had to figure out some sort of way to provide an alternate means of communication with the student body, so that’s why the text line came into play.” Matt created the text line, which informs students about upcoming athletic contests, important events, and reminders. Clearly, President Tomaselli has revolutionized the ability to communicate effectively with Gilman students and adapted accordingly with the technology available to him.

The divide between seniors and the rest of the school has clearly been aided in a communication sense by the texting line. However, there still seems to be a lack of connectivity between grades, which may have been more fulfilling on Facebook than the new texting system. Students now use an array of apps which allow each other to connect, but the student body generally seems less connected. Of course, this is the systematic issue with social media in general. The reduced use of Facebook between different grades could be a sign of classes beginning to separate into individual grades versus a more united Gilman community.