In a limited sense, Sabena Suri’s article "Ick, Old Married Guys on Facebook" is just a rant from a Gen Y writer about "outsiders" invading Facebook. (As a married guy who’s just had his 43rd birthday, I haven’t yet decided whether to take direct offense.)
But in a broader sense, the article points out the dangers of being too broad. e-Marketing Superstar Seth Godin has long advocated for creating "remarkable" products that appeal to narrow audiences. He argues that great products aren’t afraid of risking being exactly wrong for large parts of the population, as long as they are exactly right for a narrower set. Is Facebook in danger of this community dilution? I haven’t yet come to a conclusion here, but it will be interesting to watch.
The technologist in me says that it’s simply a software issue — let communities create subcommunities within them, but each individual subcommunity can use the same features. But the marketer in me says it’s far more than that. Since branding is all about creating an emotional connection between a person and a brand, the "family brand" matters. Eventually, if Facebook’s Gen Y / Gen Z -heavy userbase matures, they’ll be a robust AARP community. (Like Margaret Cho’s joke, which asked us to consider what we’ll be like in our sunset years — "Hey Madge, Play Hungry like the Wolf again"…)
Whether the technologist or marketer will win will determine Facebook’s long-term success or failure. Does an online community, by its very nature, require exclusion to stay vibrant? Too soon to tell. Meanwhile, you can join me on Facebook, and add me as your friend. Even if I am married and old. 🙂