Where the Olds Aren't: The Best Social Media Platforms, Ranked


Facebook is ten years old, and at this point, it’s practically a Christmas party at the local VFW hall—it’s heavy on the grandparents and most kids know to be on their best behavior. Meanwhile, new sites and services are springing up like mushrooms after a rainstorm.

So: which apps are the prom after-party in the field behind someone’s barn? Where’s the cocktail mixer for the grown adults? Well, let’s see!

LinkedIn: Given that this platform seems most useful to regional middle managers within Fortune 500 companies, the average age probably falls somewhere around 45. No one creates a profile here until a college career counsel tells them to. Olds Index: They’re here, and in force.

Instagram: We’re venturing out of grandma territory, but it’s only a matter of time until this is every bit as popular with the olds as Facebook. That’s because, if you think about it, this is the perfect app for the older members of your family to a) post pics of the kids and grandkids in Halloween costumes and b) keep tabs on your day-to-day life. OI: Pack your bags and scrub your timelines, teens.

Twitter: Users seem to land somewhere in their 30s, so there are plenty of adults on this service. But conversations between different demos seem to separate like oil and water. OI: Plenty, but they live clear across town from the teens and never bump into each other at the grocery store.

Pinterest: There are plenty of college girls pinning knit caps and engagement rings just as fast as they can, but they’re more than matched by moms pinning renovation inspiration and (quietly) ideas for their daughters’ weddings. And what’s the point of Pinterest if you don’t at least see your own apartment on the horizon? OI: This is what adult Internet looks like. Ages 21 and up exist in relative harmony.

Tumblr: Sure, there are a bunch of ~brands~ and writers in the 30s chillin’ on Tumblr. But let’s face it: Down in this network’s soul, it’s roughly 19 years old. There’s all the porn, for one thing, and not to mention it’s basically the equivalent of pinning posters on your wall. There’s a reason Tumblr goes mostly for the Matt Smith Doctor and not the Christopher Eccleston Doctor. OI: GOD MOM I TOLD YOU TO KNOCK.

Snapchat: This ephemeral messaging service, which allows you to send photos that disappear after 8 seconds, first blew up among college kids, most of whom have been getting into trouble for what they post on Facebook since puberty. I know there’s at least one parent on this service, because I made my mom an account so I could send her pictures of my cat. But adding emojis and tinkering with the timer? Forget it. If you’re older than 25, you’re a guest in this house. OI: Snap what? Snap who?

Tinder: Now we’re getting into the territory where a substantial slice of people over 30 will say “what???” when the subject comes up. The dating app serves up pictures and taglines for people nearby, and you respond with a simple yes or no verdict (by swiping left or right). If you both say yes, you start messaging. A low-pressure road to romance—but also a streamlined path to casual booty. It’s especially popular in the Olympic Village, which is of course populated largely by very attractive, athletic people in their early 20s. OI: Blank stares.

Whisper: Honestly, I’m still not sure what the fuck Whisper is. Users can upload anonymous messages on photo backgrounds, then people can vote and comment, I think? Here’s what I do know: One evening I opened it while in the New York City suburbs, and the entire “nearby” tab was some variation on “I’m horny.” Don’t worry, though! There’s now Secret, which serves up anonymous dish from your iPhone contacts list and friends of friends and is currently blowing up in Silicon Valley. No doubt it will soon be wreaking havoc among your own friend group. OI: Lil rascals.

Photo via Shutterstock

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