Sunday, August 4, 2019

Keeping Up with the Virtual Joneses

I just returned from a week with my family on Lake Coeur d'Alene. So lovely and relaxing! During some conversation, I mentioned Ed Sheeran, and my aunt - who'd never heard of him - asked me how I kept up on discovering new music.

It was an interesting question, and one I had to think about. Finally I said that I see a lot of recommendations on Twitter. Instagram, too. People share Spotify lists or post YouTube videos. She nodded a little at my answer, clearly a bit daunted at the prospect of emulating me there. So, I sent her two Ed Sheeran albums for her birthday.

Coincidentally enough, our topic at the SFF Seven this week is "Keeping up with trends and changes in social media." Not an easy thing to do for any of us.

It's true, in fact, of most technology. As a member of the generation that transitioned in high school and college from typewriters to word processors, I'm keenly aware of how keeping up with advances in computer technology poses greater challenges for me every year. It's a simple factor of aging that learning new tricks gets more difficult, and it seems to be true of tech that it morphs rapidly.

Also, as with slang and other forms of social interaction, social media changes even more rapidly. The youth drive the "in" form of communication - and the older generations struggle to keep up.

The good news is, I firmly believe that keeping up with trends and changes in social media helps to keep us mentally youthful. It's good to learn new things, and communicating with those younger than we are helps to keep us involved in the world. But HOW to do that?

My advice for that is the same as with all social media: pick and choose.

When you hear someone talk about something cool they saw on some social medium, go check it out. Ruthlessly control what you see - pick and choose whose timelines or accounts you follow - and then play with it. Try to resurrect that feeling of youthful exploration.

Make it fun! After all, the second rule of social media is: If it's not fun for you, don't do it.

And it's okay if something that starts out fun stops being fun after a while. I'd really love for XKCD to do a graphic of the social media life cycle. First you find a new-to-you one, you play with it, gain a following, then creepy men send you anonymous messages. Brought to you by the person who thought Instagram was a safe space and is now receiving creepster messages. *sigh*

BUT... that's a minor part of things. Inevitable as death and taxes, it seems.

Another trick is to absolutely engage with younger people and manipulate them into helping your geezer self. It requires having no shame. I recently cornered a young writer in a bar and made him show me how to do Instagram stories. He was awesome about it.

Remember: learning something new is good for our brains! And having fun doing it makes all the difference.


  1. Lol! I'm imagining you learning Instagram stories at the bar. :)
    And a great social media rule, it has to be fun or kick it to the curb!