This is an updated version of a post originally published on November 8, 2013.
Seventy-two percent of online American adults use Facebook—that includes 79 percent of internet users aged 30 to 49 and 64 percent of those aged 50 to 64. Those adults are increasingly becoming the power users who are clearly getting the most out of the platform—your mom included.
I’d argue that if all people used Facebook the ways our moms did, teens and young adults would enjoy the social network more than ever.
To prove my point, here are three ways your mom is better than you at Facebook.
1. Her friends are actual friends
In the last few years, Facebook has become a popularity contest for many people. Users strived to have the most friends among their peers, and in doing so their News Feeds became a dumping ground for information that they didn’t care about.
It turns out that most of us don’t care that the guy you met at your friend’s girlfriend’s party two summers ago dressed as Miley Cyrus for Halloween. With so much useless info clogging up your feed, it’s no surprise that many people are leaving Facebook behind in favor of the very personal experience offered by Snapchat and other networks.
Enter mom. While we all know many social-savvy moms who play the friend game as well, most moms that I’m connected to have friend lists of under 100 people. Basically, many moms have approached Facebook as a tool to connect with their ACTUAL friends, not their casual acquaintances. Perhaps this stems from a healthy reluctance to share personal information and experiences with strangers?
Whatever the reasoning, many moms look through their home feeds and actually see things that matter to them. They see photos and posts from real friends, and this comfort actually makes them more prone to engagement (commenting, sharing and the like). If your Facebook feed was completely filled with close friends, wouldn’t you use it more?
2. She is a serial commenter
Of the 550 or so friends I have on Facebook, I regularly interact with—through likes or comments—maybe 25 to 30 of them. Maybe.
This relates back to the fact that so many of these contacts aren’t real friends. But it also has to do with the fact that Facebook has lately become a barren wasteland for interaction. When Facebook introduced the Like button in 2009 (and expanded it to Reactions in 2016), they probably didn’t want it to replace comments. But that’s where my feed is today, and the same can be said about countless others. Everyday I see posts with more than 20 Likes and other reactions and not a single comment. While silent approval is great, humans need actual conversation and interaction.
Enter mom. Moms comment on everything. My mom, my aunts, their friends… these people do not click the Like button and move on. They voice their appreciation of new photos, they encourage us as we take on new endeavors, and if they laugh at a funny post then they let us know that they did. Whether or not you want your mom commenting on everything, most of us will readily admit that the best moments on Facebook occur in comment threads below posts. The engagement, the arguments, the teasing and the laughs that come out of comments are what makes this social network actually social, and enjoyable.
While I’ve come to ignore the Likes, I’ll always take the time to read the comments. I just wish there were more of them.
3. She likes to humble brag
Bragging can get tiresome, fast. We all have the friend who posts about their car/vacation/awesome job far too often (guilty). But strangely enough, Facebook is also filled with the most mundane day-to-day experiences that you have to wonder what people are thinking when they click “Post.” “Ugh, so tired!” might get a few Likes. But the Likes are likely exponentially smaller in number compared to the people who scroll right by, or facepalm at the mediocrity.
Enter mom. The moms that I’m privileged to have as friends on Facebook are far more selective about what they share (except, maybe, when it comes to Farmville requests… but you can block those).
It’s almost as if before they post something, they ask themselves “will anyone actually care?” Sure, their profiles are often littered with humble brags to the tune of “So proud of my daughter on her new job!” or what have you. They use Facebook to share the relevant moments that differentiate their days, which is exactly the type of ‘spice’ that many of our Home Feeds are lacking.
Obviously the above examples don’t apply to all moms. There are many mothers out there who are incredibly active on social media and who are facing the same Facebook trials and tribulations that are driving teens and others away.
But the fact is that many moms have approached Facebook as a tool to really connect and keep in touch with good friends, and that purpose is reflected in how they act and interact on the social network day in and day out. If more of us approached Facebook in the same way, we might fall back in love with the tool that, for many of us, is responsible for our love affair with social media.