So, a teenager intern at Morgan Stanley wrote a report categorically stating that teens don’t do Twitter, and you could hear thousands of social media hype-meisters screaming bloody murder. It’s almost as if a million Twitter feeds cried out in pain at once. Being the cynical person that I am, I tend to take the opinion of one 15 year-old with a pinch of salt, particularly because the intern in question claims to have understood banking within a week. Perhaps we should put him in charge of the country’s finances… but I digress.
More interesting than the original piece has been the reaction. The Times led with the headline “Twitter is for old people“; the BBC covered the story as “The wisdom of teenagers“; while The Guardian received the report with a number of pieces that put their G8 coverage to shame, including responses by two other teenagers. In the middle of all the media storm, my favourite opinion has been Suw Charman’s reply, who rightly points out that one anecdotal report does not constitute hard data. As a commenter wrote in The Guardian: “This is what we call a generalisation. I know may teenagers who absolutely love Twitter, myself included.”
Why have social media types been so surprised by the news? I think that at the heart of the reaction is the very shallow reason that some people see Twitter as the ultimately cool social application, it shows the wannabe socialites that they still have the finger on the pulse of what’s happening; that they still know what the kids want. For these people, the news that Twitter is for “old people” must have been the greatest shock since they turned 30. At a deeper level, it was met with some surprise because it left a lot of social media experts scratching their heads and trying to find out where are the kids hanging out these days. If they’re not listening to the radio, and not on Twitter, where the bloody hell are they?
I will reserve judgement for now, but much as Suw and the commenters at Guardian CiF have pointed out, I will take my data from more authoritative sources than a single teen with some inflated ideas of adequacy. I have to say that I am not surprised either way. Perhaps this story tells us more about technology journalists, geek bloggers and other cool-hunters than it tells us about teenagers.
I’m off to tweet about this post to my ageing following of old geezers.