Learning Social Media for Baby Boomers, part 1

Learning Social Media Tips for Boomers, Part 1

Learning Social Media If You Weren’t Born Using the Internet

Learning Social Media : Facebook is Easiest, Most Fun and Useful

Learning Social Media : Facebook is Easiest, Most Fun and Useful

If you weren’t born in the computer era, social media might be intimidating. With any new Internet technology, I sometimes I think I might break the computer, or never figure out how to make the programs do what I want.

I was born in the Post-World War II Baby Boom, 1948.  I started learning social media on the Internet when I was 45, an old dog who had to learn a lot of new tricks.  Most of us have learned to use e-mail, word processors, Internet search engines like Google, and whatever programs we need at work.

But we’re not as good or confident on the Internet as any kid.  They grew up with Internet technology. Internet language is their native language.  They know they can correct or undo any mistake without damaging anything.

Learning Social Media: I Needed Help Learning Twitter

Learning Social Media: I Needed Help Learning Twitter

For boomers, learning social media and Internet programs can be unfamiliar stuff that uses unfamiliar language. Like strangers in a strange land, we get confused, nervous, stressed, and frustrated when new program installation wizards give us pop-up messages and choices we don’t understand.

Sometimes, the computer seems unpredictable, like when I ask the computer to do one thing and another happens, or when I don’t know whether to choose Yes or No, when installing a program.

It takes me a long time to learn new things and new terminology.  I get stressed out, give up easily, or don’t try at all.

Learning Social Media is Essential Today

But learning social media is essential for people who wish to follow and participate in the mental health recovery/empowerment movement.  We use social media as parlors, to exchange information, discuss ideas, and circulate interesting articles and web pages.

Facebook is most important for movement people learning social media..  It is easier to learn than Twitter, and allows you to spread more information.

Learning Social Media from a Kid

For Boomers learning social media, the most efficient way is to ask anyone under 35 to show you how.  They’ve all been on the Internet since childhood, and practically all use Facebook and Twitter.

A “kid mentor” can be anyone young enough to be my kid. The “kid mentor” who helps me with teaches with learning social media is 37.

Most kids are glad to share what they know.  But don’t let them explain things to you unless you are both at your computers, on the phone, open to the same screen, or sitting side by side at your computer. Never believe them when they say learning social media is easy.

Learning social media quickly becomes easy once you’re up and running.

The best kid mentors make you do it yourself while they talk you through it step by step. That way, you’ll remember it.  If they show you how to do something, don’t let them leave until they have watched you do it yourself.  After that, the only way to learn new computer technology is to use it.  If you have a problem or get confused, call your kid mentor.

Now that I’ve been learning social media for a while, and can do the basics,  my kid mentor makes me try to solve problems myself before I call her for the answer.  She’s taught me several ways to find answers myself, like typing the question into a search engine and seeing what comes up. When I have a problem, or want to learn something new on Facebook, I type the question onto my page that all my FB friends see. I always get a bunch of suggestions  .

I remember the solutions I find myself, and learning social media tricks on my own at my age is incredibly satisfying and validating.    My kid mentor teaches me to fish, which lasts a lifetime, before she gives me a fish, which lasts a day,

The Danger of Social Media

Social media can take over your life if you’re not careful.  I’ve spent whole days on social media.  I start my writing day on Facebook, scanning my news page, checking my status page for Likes and Comments, and writing a status.

It gets out of hand sometimes when comments on comments on comments start multiplying.  But often, that’s the most fun, interesting, social part of social media.

Bestselling author Tosca Lee wrote a funny, only slightly exaggerated blog about this peril of social media. Self-control is your only defense against it, unless you close your social media accounts, like my nephew just did because they were taking too much of his time.

Not Learning Social Media Is No Option

Recently my kid mentor told me about someone who said, “Well, I just don’t have time for social media.” Then two sentences later, her friend  said, “I’ve been trying to get people together in my hometown for advocacy around the problems with medications, and I just haven’t been able to get anything started.”

We don’t have time NOT to use social media.

Facebook event invitations can tell 500 people about your event in 15 minutes. If they are excited about the event that’s open to the public, they can invite THEIR friends, too, in seconds.

Text messaging can get information to 50 people in 20 minutes, and each person can respond in just 30 seconds if they want. Kids don’t mind getting invited to parties electronically instead of by snail mail or phone, my kid mentor says.

Egypt's "Egypt Moment" Was Started and Sustained on Social Media

Egypt's "Egypt Moment" Was Started and Sustained on Social Media

That technology and thinking overthrew, absolute, repressive dictators in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, who controlled all the other media in their countries.  It started Occupy Wall Street, spread it all over the country, and keeps it together.

If the recovery/empowerment movement ever has an “Egypt moment” that changes the mental health system, it will start, spread, and be sustained on social media.

See Part 2 of the series “Learning Social Media for  Baby Boomers: Starting on Facebook and Twitter”

http://wellnesswordworks.com/?p=440

Wordworks Blog Author: Ken Braiterman

Ken Braiterman, Wellness Wordworks board chair, has been an activist, news reporter, opinion writer, and columnist since 1968. From 1997 to 2009, he was New Hampshire's leading advocate for recovery-based mental health services. He is an advanced Wellness and Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) facilitator.

8 comments to Learning Social Media for Baby Boomers, part 1

  • […] Learning Social Media for Baby Boomers, part 1 » Learning Social Media for Baby Boomers, Part 2 Starting on Facebook and Twitter If […]

  • Kira

    Some of the things I have found teaching the Boomer Plus generation is show people how they get personal benefits from using the computer and social media. Once they find they have a reason to try, many are willing to jump in. The motivation is a big part. Most of us don’t try things just because they are new. Most of us want to know how this “stuff” will make our lives better or easier. So many kids are just willing to do stuff because it is new. We need reasons.

    Also, when it comes to social media, I like to show people how to protect themselves by adjusting their privacy settings. First, set all privacy settings to Friends Only. You can change them later and customize stuff, but if you limit who can see your posts and information, it is less likely that you will get yourself into trouble.

    I also like to show people how to use Lists and how when they post a “status”, they can limit it to just the people on certain lists.

    And when it comes to posting information in your “profile” on Facebook … you don’t have to post EVERYTHING about yourself. When you are new to Facebook, limit what you post until you feel comfortable.

    I’m going to read Part 2 now! Thanks Ken!

    • Kira did not mention that she was a career information technology specialist with the Social Security Administration. Now retired she teaches courses in Internet and social media technology to people in their 60’s and beyond.

      So I’m especially grateful for her expert feedback.

      Since http://www.wellnesswordworks.com is part of the mental health reform/recovery/empowerment movement, people who visit our website and read our blogs are already interested in our movement.

      So I agree with Kira that motivation is the key to teaching new things to mature adults. The motivation I focused on is that there is no other way to keep in touch with the latest news, research. and thinking our movement produces every day. As Henry Kissinger used to say, “That has the added advantage of being true.”

      To appreciate the self-mocking irony of what Kissinger said, you have to be old enough to remember how he operated when he was the most important person in world affairs from 1968 to 1976, under Presidents Nixon and Ford. For that wily, manipulative master of cynical balance-of-power diplomacy, being true was nice, but just an “added advantage.”

      • Great Post. Almost as good as one of mine when I worked there lol. I agree that social media is plagued by those who simply claim to be experts and having been in the industry for around 5 years, this does grate on me. I have seen many agencies secure contracts recently who say that they run full social media’ services. and yet they have never used Digg? never had a frontpage on Digg, never heard of stumble upon, don’t get their hands dirty running competitons, don’t have a network they haven’t just bought.

        They might have a few 100+ twitter followers and a dormant Facebook account that is never updated. These people & agencies are not experts, they might through terms like FULL OF WIN’ around like Charlie Sheen on a good day, but as they baffle the big companies and win contracts from smaller firms who actually have the talent.. it just means that real social media is pushed to the background and this crap is highlighted in the press. A real campaign has grass roots not weeds. PS: I would have to add some of the coding books, marketing and a few more post it’s to my desk lol

    • Most small businesses are aware that they can use Social Media for campaigning & branding their company. Using social media networks like Twitter,LinkedIn or Facebook can actually allow us to do that. Each time that we engage a potential customer onone of these social media networks we’re exposing our small business to thousands of other possible connections through the friends and or followers of the person we engage. One social media network that can be beneficial to small bssunesies isFacebook.We can share product information, company information, and any specials we may be running currently. The information being provided will allow the customers to create a great connection with our small business brand. Thus, Social mediaprovides potential access to an audience of millions at the touch of a button.

  • Thank you,Ajiq.

    I’m not an expert on social media, any more than someone who makes toast in the morning is an expert on toasters. If I gave the impression I think I’m an expert, let me correct it now.

    Wellness Wordworks founder and creative director Corinna West is an expert on social media. She is also my best friend and “kid mentor.”

    I learned in my 60’s to use social media. I only use the basics I need every day, as I do with my smart phone, computer, and microwave oven.

    I wrote these blogs for people in my age group, to show them they could do what I did, and why they should overcome their fear of learning social media. To them, I might look like an expert, but by an expert, I’m no expert.

  • Obdulia Chism

    Almost exactly nine months after World War II ended, “the cry of the baby was heard across the land,” as historian Landon Jones later described the trend. More babies were born in 1946 than ever before: 3.4 million, 20 percent more than in 1945. This was the beginning of the so-called “baby boom.” In 1947, another 3.8 million babies were born; 3.9 million were born in 1952; and more than 4 million were born every year from 1954 until 1964, when the boom finally tapered off. By then, there were 76.4 million “baby boomers” in the United States. They made up almost 40 percent of the nation’s population.;

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    • Interesting. I always thought my year, 1948, was the babiest year of the boom. Boomers have always been a generation of firsts:

      First born into the nuclear age.
      First Freudian generation
      First TV generation
      First to be aware that population growth could ruin the Earth for everyone.
      First with easy access to the birth control pill.
      First to be recognized as a separate market with money to spend on records, movies, the sponsors of TV shows, and taste different from people older or younger
      First to look back from space, and see Earth as a tiny blue ball suspended in a black void
      First to think globally about the environment
      First to realize Earth’s resources were finite and could be used up
      And so on.
      First to think of ourselves as “a generation,” with a different name and description for every stage of our lives: teenagers, college kids, yuppies, hippies. It drove the generations behind us crazy. “What’s so special about you

      Each first changed how we see ourselves and our planet, and separated us from our parents and grandparents..