It began in casual conversation. Senior Peter Schmidt ‘17 was discussing a recent EAC survey with a friend when the two landed on the topic of Facebook. A nearby freshman overheard and interjected, “Wait, you have a Facebook?”
She was astonished at the possibility of an 18-year-old high school student using Facebook. Peter made little of her comment, considering it a brief, awkward encounter. A few weeks later, however, he had a similar experience.
That night— the first assigned dance in which seniors were paired with freshmen — Peter asked his two dates whether they used Facebook. They laughed.
“Facebook is for old people,” they replied in unison, their tone bordering on disdain. A cluster of nearby freshmen nodded in agreement and asked, “Who still uses facebook?”
After the fact, Peter felt unsure how to respond. “In all honesty, I’ve never felt so ganged-up on,” he stated. He considered the confrontations momentarily, contemplating the possible social media tools used by Freshmen. Jokingly, he asked,“Am I old?”
In a series of brief surveys, the Notes sought to investigate social media usage throughout the student-body. Oddly enough, the words of freshmen ring true, and data reveals a sizeable rift between social media preferences amongst underclassmen and upperclassmen.
According to the responses of forty-three freshmen, nearly eighty percent of their grade does not have a facebook account. Furthermore, only twelve percent of freshmen use Facebook regularly— this amounts to a meager seven students out of a grade of sixty-one.
Interestingly, as one climbs the grades, Facebook usage increases. In the sophomore class, over sixty percent of students has an account and in the Junior class, over ninety percent. Of the Sophomore and Junior grades, between seventeen and fifty percent use the social platform regularly.
When compared to Facebook usage amongst seniors, the disparity between upperclassmen and underclassmen is striking. In contrast to the freshman class, about ninety percent of the senior grade has a Facebook account, while nearly seventy percent use it regularly. This data suggests that for every freshman on Facebook, there are a corresponding eight seniors using the website as well.
Interestingly, seniors and freshmen also use Facebook for different purposes. While both grades utilize the social aspects of the website, senior usage borders on the educational; many portrayed Facebook as a medium to stay informed through current articles and the occasional blog.
One senior responder, noted, “I use it mostly for sharing brief news pieces with others, including those from the New York Times, the BBC, and NPR.”
Whereas for upperclassmen Facebook may function as a news source, it serves primarily as a simple social tool for underclassmen used to keep in touch with friends and see what others are doing. A sophomore responder described using Facebook for “communication and checking up on others”.
Meanwhile, one of the few freshman users stated, “I waste time on it and stalk people. Kinda addicted, actually.”
With few freshmen on Facebook, Peter posed a question and asked, “If not Facebook, then what?”
The answers: Instagram and Snapchat.
An alternate string of surveys conducted by the Notes revealed that Snapchat and Instagram are the students’ primary social platforms. Across all grades, between eighty-six and ninety-six percent of each class has an Instagram account while between sixty-six and eighty-eight percent of each class uses it regularly.
When considering Instagram, freshman and senior data differs nominally, suggesting little variance in Instagram usage between upper and underclassmen.
Snapchat usage is even greater in the student body. Collectively, over ninety percent of seniors, juniors, and sophomores use Snapchat. At eighty-three percent, freshmen Snapchat usage is the lowest.
Students in each grade expressed Snapchat as the superior social tool. According to their responses, it is fast, easy-to-use, and provides room for humor via various photo and video editing options including live filters and geotags. Additionally, the transitory nature of each snapchat— videos and photos are automatically deleted after they are viewed— offers students a way to send quick, offhand jokes.
Still, Peter begs the question, “Is Facebook for old people?” In a final survey, the Notes posed this blunt question to freshmen.
To most freshmen, Facebook is, indeed, for old people. If by old people, they mean seniors only two years their superior. Fortunately, through Snapchat and Instagram old and decrepit upperclassmen can continue to meet new social trends.