I encountered a clear generation gap recently as I led a workshop for teachers in my school. I was explaining and showing them how they how to guide their own professional development during the summer by using Technorati to find blogs on topics of professional or personal interest to learn about them on their own time. When I tried to get a sense of how many people were familiar with blogs a 20-something teacher said she used them all the time, especially to "keep in touch with her friends." When other teachers expressed confusion at this she went on to explain how every day she checked in with several of her friends' myspace or xanga pages to see what they were up to, quickly pulling up a page and saying, "see, here are pictures of my friend's new baby that he just posted. It's so easy to put up pictures and stuff so everyone can see them right away." A few teachers in their 40's and 50's had a near disgusted reaction to this, making faces and saying, "That's so impersonal! I could never keep in touch that way!" I only use blogs for information, not to keep in touch, but I've known about the communication habits of younger people for a while. What was interesting for me was that we're so inundated by negative publicity about social networking sites that we don't realize that most people are using them for very positive communication habits if we haven't adopted these new habits ourselves. It's important to keep an open mind!
As it turned out, the offending teachers later apologized when they realized they had been kind of rude, so any ruffled feathers were unruffled by the end of the day.