Short Takes: Social Media


Facebooking, Tweeting, and Other Techie Pastimes

I am not, nor will I ever be, confused with someone who understands anything about technology. I had accepted, without even partial understanding, that telephone wires transmitted the sounds of my loved, and unloved, ones’ voices to me. Then phones became wireless!

Airplanes, television, light switches, cars and computers … it’s a case of use without knowledge, and I’m okay with that. I’m accumulating more techie stuff daily, under-using most, but determined not to be left totally in the dust. I reluctantly ventured into Facepage, as I mistakenly called it, to the dismay of my kids; within minutes it had fulfilled my every fear. Names from the past or from somewhere popped up wanting to ‘friend’ me. Yikes, I barely have enough time or energy to keep up with the people in my current life, let alone reconnect with my first-grade lunch buddy. I attempted to make a quick exit from Facebook, which seemed to confuse the company; evidently normal people don’t leave the program.

My favorite and totally necessary techie item is my GPS. I call her Elizabeth, and I love and trust her. I love her even-toned patience, as she gently tells me that she is recalculating my route, again. She never gets surly when I ignore her. She continues to help me – a true friend.

I’ll never use any electronic dating site. Some people use them with great success, and I am happy for those people. I’d rather stand on a street corner with a billboard stating “I’m available.” But if I were to submit a profile saying what I wanted in a mate, it would say, “Must have untreated ED; should have kayak.”

I want a simple life.

 

All aTwitter

Call me a Luddite, but Twitter strikes me as more than faintly ridiculous.  Those in the know contend that tweeting allows one to get a message out to the public in seconds. In condensed form. This is a good plan?

Time Magazine recently featured an article about a pastor who encouraged his charges to tweet. “If God leads you to continue this as a form of worship, by all means do it.” God cares about Twitter, advocates for it, in fact?

We already receive too much information in haiku form. An all-news radio station brags, “Give us 22 minutes and we’ll give you the world.” USA Today prides itself on the abbreviated news item; if you can’t read it in two minutes, don’t bother.

How much can one communicate in 140 characters? Plenty, if you happen to be a Japanese poet steeped in a poetic form that looks easy until you try it.

I suspect little of substance comes in Twitter form. I fear many messages contain primarily the mundane: today I had a pedicure. Stop at a red light and notice the people next to you with Bluetooths attached like an extra appendage to their heads, chattering away. About what?

Some might argue that my avoidance of social media is fear of something new. I contend that it’s a conscious choice to engage in activities that make wise use of my time. Granted, my curmudgeonly attitude is colored by the fact that I come from a generation that had to get up to change the channel, and had no VCR, DVD player, computer or answering machine. Neighbors talked to each other. They didn’t abbreviate the message; they had real conversations. And they had an important commodity available to them: time. Ironically, today we fill our lives with devices that deprive of us of the one thing we can’t replace.

Yesterday my local newspaper contained an advertisement for a class, Twittering for Beginners. I’m pleased to say I won’t be there.

 

Tweet, Blog, Facebook, and Other Techie Stuff for the Chronologically Advanced and Others

For those of us who grew up without TV, cell phones, or computers, jumping into techie stuff – anything beyond e-mail, texting and Facebook – was like taking a Polar Bear plunge on a frigid winter day.

Thirty years ago, as an RN, I opened my practice, Mind/Body Health Care. The approach to marketing at that time was business cards, brochures, lecturing, television, and giving workshops. Those were the days of snail mail and spending hours hand writing letters. Now I need to stay connected with friends and loved ones and to market successfully in our fast-paced world. 

The Journey:

Two years ago I took a 30-day on-line blogging course. Recently, I took a nine-week social media course, which gave my chronologically advanced brain a healthy workout.

The first night of class was like being sucked into quicksand in an alternate world where everything, even the language, was unfamiliar. Fortunately, the instructor presented the information in a succinct, easy-to-understand form. I was excited to see the vast amount of information available to me at the touch of my fingers. The instructor said social media is popular with older people, which was encouraging. One classmate commented, “you can do it in your pajamas without leaving the house.” Well, I still leave my house. I’m not a pajama lounger yet.

 

Homework was to set up a blog; have an active Twitter account, a website, an e-mail server and an e-mail blast; and to publish a newsletter. Here is how to do this:

Twitter: Go to the blue bird, the Twitter site. Enter an identity, a password, and a brief bio. Tweet tips: Tweets are 140 characters or less. A tweet contains keywords to draw people to your blog and website. Use # for a specific category, # your town, and @ your name or @                to direct tweets to a specific person. “Follow” others to build your network.

Facebook: Go to Facebook.com and follow the guidelines to set up your account. You can choose private settings and “friend” to connect with others. Many people choose to use Facebook with private settings, and a “fan page,” for the public.

Blog: WordPress.com has an easy-to-set-up blogging system. When I sent out my first blog post, I felt a rush and then I sucked in my breath. In seconds, I went from a feeling of accomplishment to an awareness of the awesome speed of Internet sprawl.

Don’t let age, a few brain cramps, information overload, or media vocabulary hold you back.

 

So We Need Help

So I start reading this review of So We Read On and then I decide to save it instead – it’ll be more interesting if I read the book first.

So I get the book from the library, start to read it and then decide to save it  – it’ll be more interesting if I go back and re-read The Great Gatsby first. But it seems there’s no longer a copy of Gatsby in this house, so I find it on the Internet. The University in Adelaide opines that it’s no longer copyrighted in Australia and their screen is most attractive.

But my back hurts sitting at the desk. It’d be great to finish the remaining chapters lying down. So I dig out the Kindle I haven’t opened in a year or two. But I’ve forgotten how to download onto the Kindle.

I already have the novel on my desk computer … or am I just signing on to that web site when I read? How do I get the novel on to the Kindle?

Someone’s attention to this matter would be greatly appreciated. Then I could go back and read the library book. Then I could go back and read the review.

Which is where we started.
 
Thanking you in advance,
I remain.

 

Timeline

I got my first typewriter in 1956, my first apartment in 1966, my first answering machine in 1976, my first computer in 1986, my first e-mail address in 1993 and my first cell phone a couple of years after that. The cell phone still makes me nervous. I thought e-mail, and the related phenomenon of the BBS (bulletin board service), were great boons; I could be in touch with people without having to talk or breathe their cigarette smoke, and a ringing telephone didn’t interrupt my concentration. In 1996 I bought a one-bedroom apartment, where I still live and have a landline, with five handsets so whenever a phone rings, even in the john, I can just reach over and grab it. But the phone, thank goodness, hardly ever rings. In 2002, having published a book that had a DVD in a little envelope in the back, I bought a TV set with built-in videotape and DVD players.  I almost never turn it on.

My interns dragged me, kicking and screaming, onto Facebook in 2006, soon after a layoff relieved me of the e-mail address and the office switchboard I’d relied on for 14 years. As a result of my addiction to Facebook, where I appear to have more than 2100 “friends,” people have been able to track me down and offer me work, but on the other hand, the magazines I still subscribe to (and some that just show up uninvited) pile up in every room of the apartment, unread. As do the books, which I still buy but rarely get around to.

I get upwards of 100 e-mails a day, send perhaps half as many.  I don’t text.  I don’t tweet. I cherish the speed with which the computer allows me to write and revise, and I don’t miss the backache I used to get from typing. Instead of a spouse, I have NPR piped into every room. I have up-to-the-minute news and photos of friends having babies, friends getting married, friends dying. Facebook helps me remember my friends’ names. The Internet sends Persimmon Tree to thousands of readers with a minimum of fuss and expense. It’s an amazing time to be alive.


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2 thoughts on “Short Takes: Social Media

  1. Ann St James

    Enjoyed all of these. Great fun. I identify with All aTwitter, and had a great laugh reading Facebooking, Twitter and Other Techie Pastimes – the biggest laugh burst out of me with “I’m available.”

  2. Rosemary McKinley

    These short takes warm my heart as I fit somewhere among all of them. I have pushed myself to learn how to use fb and twitter but it took me a long while to become comfortable using them. Love the humor in the writing!

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