Staying social online
It used to be that the likelihood of running into an old high school friend 30 years after graduation was pretty small. Times have certainly changed! Thanks to the advent of the Internet and the proliferation of social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, many of us not only stay in touch with old pals – we know what they had for breakfast because we’ve seen pictures of it!
Social media has the ability to bring people together in such exciting and important ways. Friends can form Facebook groups designed to help them stay in touch or band together to offer support to a mutual pal going through a rough time with the help of sites like CaringBridge or Meal Train. Family members that are spread out across the country can touch base and share photos and stories with each other every single day. Advocates can rally entire communities to effect important change or raise awareness about issues affecting people in the neighborhood and around the world.
We have the ability to be more connected to each other now than ever before. That means that as we age we can be more social, find help and valuable resources in our own communities, and feel less alone and vulnerable than we otherwise might have without the connections and relationships that social media allows us to foster.
Facebook is a very popular (and free!) social networking site that allows registered users to create personal profiles and stay in touch with family and friends by sharing photos and videos, sending messages, and interacting with each other on their personal walls (which are kind of a like bulletin boards where you post your thoughts and messages). If you’re a beginner, check out this great video tutorial that walks you through the basics of Facebook.
Other social media sites, like Instagram (a photo sharing site), and LinkedIn (a site for professional networking) are also popular and provide wonderful ways to connect with people you know, or knew once upon a time.
If you’re hoping to use social media to connect with long ago friends, we have some great tips in our “Hello, old friend!” article to help you get started.
Let common sense be your guide when you’re exploring social media:
- Don’t give out any personal information on public forums.
- When you receive a friend request, make sure you really do know that person before you give him or her access to your personal page. This can protect you from spammers and other undesirable people lurking online.
- Don’t announce that you’re going on vacation by posting it on your profile. You may have your privacy settings locked up tight, but you never really know for sure who could be reading your friend’s computer or device.
Social media truly has changed the world in ways both big and small. We often find out about important world events from a social media feed before we see or hear about them anywhere else, and reading friends’ and family members’ thoughts about those events allows us to broaden our minds and open ourselves up to new perspectives.
The advent of social media has also been a tremendous boon for small organizations trying to make a big difference in the world. Stories about random acts of kindness movements and other amazing efforts have the potential for a worldwide reach, which means more good things can – and do – happen because we’re talking about it on social media.
But of course, one of the nicest perks of all is that it allows us to feel connected to the people we love in a new and different way.
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