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Ageism, the Generation Gap, and the Battle for Social Supremacy
By: Jessica Sims
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I'm sure you've heard about, or hopefully read, the controversial article in NextGen penned by Cathryn Sloane about a month ago. She was an unknown Iowa State student until her piece, Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25, blew the Internet up (or at least, the part of the Internet that cares about people who work in social media) and people in ALL generations, from Baby Boomers to Gen Xers to Millennials, were up in arms over the article. I heard the words "entitled," "spoiled," and "experience," thrown around like the old family pigskin. Then 11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Shouldn't Run Your Social Media was published in the Sunday Business Times and there were tons of responses to that (including a direct rebuttal: 11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Should Run Your Social Media Campaigns) and it got me thinking about a lot of things.

What really struck me was:

  1. The extremely negative reactions from older professionals; people were personally attacking her acting extremely unprofessional, not to mention publicly displaying some very ageist attitudes that saddened me.
  2. The ridiculous comments made by Millenials who ARE acting and sounding like entitled, spoiled brats.
  3. The sheer audacity of anybody who thinks they can put an "expiration" or "good by XX" date on somebody's career choice!

Last time I checked, there is no age limit for doing your d@mn job; you either do or you don't. If you fail, you can't explain to your boss that you were just "too young/old." Anybody at any age can fail or succeed at any job, and social media management is no different.

If you hire a 23-year old who doesn't understand content, audience, and trends, no matter how much she loves Facebook, it's going to ruin your social program. If you turn around and hire a 35-year-old who is on top of her hashtags, follows trends, and studies your audience? Then buddy, you've got yourself a great social media manager. It doesn't make any sense to keep throwing around these (frankly random) numbers and trying to force your opinion on others. You say young people aren't mature, that some don't understand Twitter, that Millenials are lazy and entitled, and that older professionals aren't "hip" enough to create compelling content.

Great, you've got that off your chest, but what did it accomplish? Now what? It's not going to stop a hiring manager from hiring who they want; instead it creates, this unnecessary divide between "them" and "us" that helps no one, be they 23 or 53. The bottom line is, there is no age for success. Zuckerberg made it big at 22, Abraham Lincoln didn't turn his life around until he was almost 30...success and failure doesn't have an age limit, and neither should your social media management requirements.

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About the Author
Jessica Sims is an entry-level PR & Social Media enthusiast just trying to get her pitches read...follow her career exploits on her blog and on her Twitter @Jess_AsPRing. jessica.sims12@gmail.com
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