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Social Networking

Written by Marylyn B. Schwartz on Sunday, 23 August 2009 7:00 pm

I am relatively new to using social networking as a means of communicating with friends, associates, clients and others. The journey to reach my skill level, moderately adept, has been both interesting and frustrating -- more the latter than the former.

Let's face it, we middle aged folks (I am giving myself significant leeway here as I don't know many 115 year old people) are generally a stubborn lot who find it tough to completely change the way we are used to things being done. Remember, we are the ones who walked 10 miles to school without shoes. Okay, I rode the bus, but it was a public bus replete with winos and peeping Toms.

Think of it. First, there was the computer. Talk about a learning curve. My curve looked like the flight path of Haley's comet. What would the nuns from my Catholic school education days say about the decline of the handwritten letter? Mercifully, most of those nuns have passed on now. I shudder to think how the loss of the mastery of cursive would have broken their blessed hearts.

So, kicking and screaming we get the computer thing down pretty well: term papers, letters, office stuff, etc. and then bam, we're hit with e-mail communication.

Those were tough times. I longed to hear the words, "Give me your address so I can drop you a note." Instead, the cry throughout the land was, "What's your e-mail address?" The minute you said, I don't have one, you were branded as a Paleozoic idiot. Move over Lucy, we have the new missing link right here.

E-mail was repugnant, lacking all warmth, tone and innuendo. It threatened to render the youth of the nation incapable of empathetic communication. We were warmed not to type in all caps. When you type in all caps, YOU ARE YELLING AT YOUR AUDIENCE. Sorry gang. Oh, and heaven help us when emoticons were born. Apparently e-mail cannot simultaneously exist with language that expresses the most common of human sentiments. Without symbols to denote joy, fear, anger, amusement, disgust, etc. we were emotionally illiterate. Yikes, that is to say: :(

However, the human spirit, especially in the older and wiser among us, is indomitable. We overcame our distaste for the lowly e-mail and are now e-mailing with the best of them… or are we? What seems to be happening is that we are suddenly e-mailing less and Facebook-ing, MySpace-ing, Linkedin-ing … more than e-mailing. Oh, I still get e-mails, but I get more private "my-wall-to- your-wall" notes than e-mails. (If you don't know what that means, you are not social networking -- yet) What would happen to all of those private communications if I suddenly stopped checking my sites? Would I be friendless in no time flat? Would the world slip by while I sat ideally watching the birds in my yard? Within weeks would people say, Marylyn who? And, if that were the case, would that be so bad??? There in lies the real question. Can we stand by, arms crossed, chins raised in haughty defiance, shouting, We're not going to take it anymore! Right, try it and that's when the family has the private meeting and the words long-term care are bantered about.

Truth be told, we don't want to be left out totally while the youth of the world continue to hunker down in their rooms creating their avatars, blogging to each other, texting till their little fingers all develop arthritis, exercise using their Wiis and creating ever more diabolical ways to advance technological communication.

Like it or not, our options are limited. The world is going forward with or without us. You're in or you're out. I say, sign up, log in, blog a lot, blog a little and enjoy the ride. Oh, by the way, there are blogs for martini drinkers and wine lovers. Thank goodness, it is not all work!

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