I’m starting to second guess what the next stage of expansion for Facebook will be. I don’t think it is an IPO. I don’t think it is a takeover of another social network (although if they wanted to buy Myspace off Murdoch at a knockdown price and stop it being ugly, that could only be a good thing). I think the next stage of expansion for Facebook is when our parents start using it.
We, the sort-off grown up children, many of us with kids of our own, have busy lives. Many of us are lousy at keeping in touch. What better way for our parents to keep track of what we’re up to in more detail than by following our profiles?
I’ve had experience of this already with my own personal blog, I can remember the surprise I had a couple of years ago when I mentioned something I’d done to my father on the phone, and he responded with “Oh I know, I read it on your site last week.” I hadn’t hidden it from him, I had mentioned it at some stage, but I just hadn’t expected him to be a regular reader. Of course though, your parents are often likely to be your keenest readers (proviso: unless say you’re blogging about a specific subject, say microbiology or your own porn model career).
Myspace is very much a teen audience in the main, partly because it is just so garish. It is the unkempt teenagers bedroom of the internet, it looks bad, there’s some unearthly music you really don’t want to listen to, and if you read their diary you’re probably going to learn that they hate you, they can’t spell, and that they’re up to a whole load of stuff you wish you hadn’t read about.
Facebook is much more tidy, it’s more like their living room in their rented house after they’ve had a couple of decent jobs and made their first trip to Ikea. It’s much more simple, pleasing on the eye, and whilst there is still some clutter hiding in the corner, you can find most of what you want easily. It is also a lot quieter.
Thus I feel that Facebook is easier as a way for parents to read up on what their children are up to. They’ll come for that, then stay for keeping in touch with their own friends, and enjoying the Friends Reunited side of it. The social network will expand exponentially.
Of course this comes with its own set of issues. For one, you may have to think, just as many people are finding that employers are checking out potential new staff on it, what your parents might think of what you are saying, or of whom you are friends with. Why are you still friends with that ex that they had to listen to you complaining about? Or that friend that always gets you into scrapes? Why are you a member of the “I hope Michael Winner slips and falls” group? Or simply why are you spending so much time on the internet yet you can’t manage a phone call? All issues we are going to face in future.