Facebook Chain Comments

We’ve all seen them. Posts on popular Facebook pages that read something like “if your reading this then your’re parent’s will die within 5 years unless u post this on 20 otehr pictures” (you have no idea how tough that was for me to type). The strange thing is, that might actually be true; but if it is, it’s not because you read a message.

How old is the average Facebook user? Some estimates put it at around 25-30, but I think that chain letters of this type aren’t specific to Facebook, and so, a better estimate might be the median age in general. I’m going to use the US as my basis for doing this, mainly because data’s easier to get.

The US median age is 37 years (data on how this varies across countries/continents/cultures will have to wait for another blog post), and the average new mother in the 1970s (when these people were born) is approximately 25 years. So, five years after the average Facebook user reads a post like this, their mother will be 67 years old, and their father past 70. You’d agree that death at this age wouldn’t be uncommon or unnatural, being just ten years short of the life expectancy (which is measured at birth, so the life expectancy of that generation – the parents of the average Facebook user – would be lower).

The difference between the life expectancy at birth of the generation currently being born (that of the older generation will probably be lower) and the average age of the median person’s mother across various countries is displayed below:

United Kingdom: 12 years

India: 15 years (although health care infrastructure has mostly been established in the past few decades here, so this could be much lower than the rest)

Australia: 14.5 years

Canada: 14.8 years

Most of the EU: 13 years

So, these chain letters may have a grain of truth to them. However, as responsible users of the Internet and Facebook, don’t take them too seriously. (“Too seriously” could be defined as spending more than about two seconds on them.)

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