Talkin’ About My Generation

Sorry, regular readers, I’m going to get heavy for a minute.

Last Friday, a 2012 college graduate named Cathryn Sloane wrote an opinion piece published on NextGen Journal. It was titled “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25.” In the article, Cathryn made a number of general statements saying her generation is the best suited for social media management because they grew up with it and, essentially, just get it. Predictably, there was immediate and intense back lash from social media managers over the age of 25.

On Saturday, the founder and editor-in-chief of NextGen, Connor Toohill, published “On the Controversy: Cathryn Sloane’s Social Media Article.” In his article, he made more general statements on how his generation does indeed think the same way Cathryn does. He also commented that NextGen respected all opinions of its readers, but, rightfully so, asked them to refrain from personal attacks on its authors.

This morning, NextGen published a rebuttal piece from Mark Story, “Dear NextGen: A Rebuttal From the Social Media Old Folks.” In it, Mark outlines his experience in the field, why he took offense to Cathryn’s article, and a few suggestions for how we can all learn, and move on, from this situation.

I’ve followed all of this closely because they are talking about me. I am a member of Cathryn’s generation and I am a social media coordinator. I don’t agree with her opinion that I’m the best person for my job just because I grew up with Facebook. I don’t appreciate Connor’s perpetuation of the stereotype that we all have this sense of entitlement. I agree with Mark when he says “there is no substitute for experience.” I learn something new about my field every day, and I still have a lot to learn before I can confidently call myself a social media expert. I’ll get there eventually, not because I’m a member of a particular generation but because I’ll have the knowledge and experience to back my claims up.

I don’t think she meant to so strongly alienate everyone, though her article has generated tons of hits, I believe she just didn’t know any better. There was another article on Social Media Today explaining how three years ago she was responsible for a PR crisis when she used spamming tactics on Twitter to promote a sweepstakes the company she was interning for was running.

So here’s some friendly advice to Cathryn: Learn from your mistakes and stop hiding. You’re again proving your inexperience by not responding to comments, counterpoints and constructive criticism. You don’t have to apologize, you stated your opinion as was your right. But a follow up piece acknowledging you screwed up in your delivery and what your real intent was will go a long way. And take Mark up on his offer to mentor you, expanding your network is always a good thing.

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