In my discussions with GenC a couple of consistent themes come up:
- we go where our network is
- we prefer to message people through the social network application
- we want to say what we want to say
- we like 'playing' with who we are
So a couple of thoughts on this. If my classic GenC (17, female) is on mySpace; yet my classic GenX (44, female) is on FaceBook, why is it? Our GenC likes to say she lives on Christmas Island (even if all her friends live in Sydney's inner west); she likes to say she is 99 (but doing her high school leaving certificate); she likes to be friends with Pink (who has has met) and Tom (who is friends with everyone) and lots of people she doesn't know; she knows her mySpace is vivid and loud and her mother would hate it - but it's all about HER - ok?
And my GenX - she only really wants to talk to people she knows, or who come recommended, but who she is pretty sure are real; she is more interested in seeing what other people are doing than in making statement about herself (loves the news feed); she doesn't mind playing, but sees FaceBook as a bit of a time waster and is starting to get to the point where updating it is difficult and tedious (FaceBook Fatigue).
Maybe the biggest difference is two fold - where their community is; and where their sense of self is - internally focussed or externally. In reality, does it matter? Some of us are comfortable in more than one place and we might never chose one network over the other.
But then again - if home is where the heart is, social networks will end up being where the network is. I'd be interested to see the possibly different networks we keep or develop on these different sites - do they reflect different elements about who we are and how we connect?