Updated May 2020 after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and public health emergency measures – original article How I Use Social Media.
I’m Old Skool. I should note my first “word processor” was a Brother electric typewriter that could store four lines of text and display them on a tiny LCD screen above the keyboard. I went from that to the Commodore 64 (for my son) and a Compaq Desk Pro.
In the 90s, I switched over to Mac. I now use social media to connect with family, friends, clients and network members. The creative use of web tools enhances my volunteerism, community development projects and also supports adult education programs, training and communications with colleagues, associates and clients. Most recently, I’ve decided to try my hand at blogging and vlogging.
I haven’t made any efforts to monetize a blog. Mostly I use social media to develop our local Creative Age Network, a community of learning and practice for adults 50+. We mobilize as a loosely structured catalyst group when there is a common goal or project, for example, to organize a community festival or launch a needed educational program or service. We also work individually and provide practical and/or moral support to each other. As a community of learning and practice, we use Facebook. Instagram, Twitter, Livestream, YouTube, ZOOM, email and texting to explore, organize, work, play, practice or just stay in touch.
It took me a long time to settle on the scope of my work. In the late 1970’s, I was drawn to global or international issues. I organized United Nations Association provincial youth conferences and joined the board of directors of the United Nations Association Canada. We hosted the UN’s 40th Anniversary Roundtable in Ottawa. We had to fly back and forth for monthly meetings and events. For a single mom, it was just too much. I pulled back from national and international activities to focus on municipal projects and more regional programs. Think globally – act locally!
By the late 1980’s I was just starting to understand how computers might change my life and work. It was during that time our employment and career training programs included MS – DOS.
Dialing Up to The Well
In 1998, I was living in the country when I joined my first online social group and that changed everything. The Well is one of the oldest virtual communities in continuous operation. The WELL was divided into general subject areas known as “conferences”. These conferences reflected member interests, and included arts, health, business, regions, hobbies, spirituality, music, politics, games, software and many more. Many journalists frequented the conferences and used the discussions and members’ ideas for articles.
Online Facilitation Courses 2000
In the Well, I learned about Nancy White of Full Circle Associates and Mihaela Mousseau (now Michele Paradise) who were starting a training program for those who wanted to or needed to create, develop and maintain online communities. Michele and Nancy built on the foundational work of Lisa Kimball and began to articulate the practice of “doing stuff together online.” From Michele, we learned the concept of “warm electronic communication” and developed deeper insights into the effect of these practices on the experience of developing meaningful connections online. Computer mediated – yes, but human driven. Nancy White followed up with communications examining her “patterns” in social media usage and explained that her activities could be loosely grouped into the following areas. I found Nancy’s groupings useful:
- Getting work done
- Finding and connecting with people
- Getting stuff (search, content, etc.)
- Exploring and pushing boundaries
Those who’ve had GEN EX adult children move away to other parts of the world usually reap the benefits of tutoring and coaching as they learn new ways to use technology to stay connected. It’s experiential learning with great motivation.
My son was living in Berlin and he was planning on taking an ESL Teacher Program in Barcelona. I started googling to find out more about his world experience. The googling led to emailing and I connected with Mar Ruiz. Through Mar Ruiz, I got involved with Barcelona2004, UNESCOs International Forum of World Cultures. We developed and implemented an Online Training Program for the facilitators of the online forums. The dialogues were translated to five different languages. It was a magical time. Our teams got to meet in person during this summer-long event that attracted 3.5 million visitors to Barcelona.
In 2007, I got involved with the World Health Organization’s Age Friendly Cities. With a local municipal councilor, we started the Age Friendly London Network – the first in Canada.
2020 starts the World Health Organization’s decade of healthy aging. Because of COVID-19, we’ve had a devastating start but the death toll of vulnerable seniors in long term care has brought attention to the need for change and resources.
Today, I use social media to share family photos/info with family members, organize professional networking and promote online meetings, programs or events.
With this recent Public Health Emergency order, we continue with ZOOM, Facebook live and open-source 2-way video conferencing which can be nerve-wracking. In a time of social isolation and working from home, our efforts towards digital transformations have increased rapidly. This week, we’re scheduled to record and edit video clips to embed in websites. Yikes.
But it’s still fun and we’re always learning….learning…..learning.