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Wisdom About Social Media From a 107 Year Old Woman

Courtesy of my insightful guest blogger Ben:

A friend recently sent me this very funny video of a pair of elderly gentlemen who get rather confused about technology. Not long after this I spoke to an elderly (107) lady on the telephone who was complaining how slow her 30mbs (very fast) cable internet connection was and she wanted it faster. I then proceeded to have a very interesting conversation with this lovely lady about the modern world and her experience. I also told her about this video, which she thought was hilarious. Lets call this lady Beryl to protect the innocent.

This discussion with Beryl started with how she was using her internet. She explained that as she didn’t get out much anymore because of her failing health (at 107 she’s had a pretty good innings as the saying goes) she used it to stay in touch with the world and explore the world as she could no longer do it on her own two feet. She was on Facebook, Twitted with her grandchildren, and used Google Earth a lot. I told her I was very impressed that she knew what all of these things were let alone the depth of her involvement in the internet and the modern fandangled social media world.

She advised me that if you didn’t keep up with the modern world and the changes in it then you would whither and die, she wasn’t ready to do that yet. I then asked her what she thought of the changes in the way people communicate in this new world. I asked her if she was worried that everyone was communicating via text which didn’t convey all of the subtle parts of communication like tone of voice and body language. I told her I have had problems with communicating with people due to this fact, where the meaning behind words and sentences are not clear.  She agreed with me but then said, “Humans will always be humans. You will find people that will misunderstand you no matter what you say and how you say it. Most people believe good in other people and take things the right way”.

I also asked her what she thought of people communicating in such short bursts (sms messages being up to 160 characters, twitter tweets being 140) how can you have a real conversation with someone where you build on the connection and relationship you have with them? Beryl had a very interesting insight on this, she said that because she is on the internet a lot of the day she sees the trends in the communication that people are having on the internet. She said the discussions people are having are not necessarily big ones or important ones, but the focus of the quick chats is often organising a longer get together at a later time.

By this time she had watched the video and had stopped laughing and I asked her what she thought of it and how it portrayed the changes in language and the meaning of words. This leads to a much longer discussion about the changes over history of the meaning of different words, but that is a post for another day.

What did you think of the video? What do you think about the way people communicate through social media and the way it has changed?

6 Responses to this post.

  1. Jazzie C's Gravatar

    Posted by Jazzie C on 19.01.11 at 1:20 pm

    Unless the pace at which we do business slows, this is one of the effective ways to communicate.

  2. Circe's Gravatar

    Posted by Circe on 19.01.11 at 1:20 pm

    I think it’s an interesting observation that Beryl made about the nature of misunderstanding. I’ve often found that misunderstandings are very tricky to navigate even in the face-to-face situations, some people will continue to misunderstand either innocently or through malicious intent, that has no bearing on the tools’ value. That being said, I think that the use of social media will become more codified as people become more accustomed to using it. When the telephone was new, most people would slam the handset down when they were finished their conversation, now, thanks to an early PR campaign on the part of telephone companies, that’s considered very rude.

  3. lauraleewalker's Gravatar

    Posted by lauraleewalker on 19.01.11 at 1:20 pm

    Thank you for your feedback and for bringing to attention that the needs of business might effect how or why we choose certain types of social media to use. Any more thoughts on this?

  4. lauraleewalker's Gravatar

    Posted by lauraleewalker on 19.01.11 at 1:20 pm

    Thank you for adding value to the post. You taught me something new about the telephone companies’ PR campaigns to communicate what is considered rude. Certainly, articles are emerging about Facebook and Twitter etiquette as people are becoming more familiar with the media.

  5. Margaret's Gravatar

    Posted by Margaret on 19.01.11 at 1:20 pm

    I think the video is quite funny, I love it. Communicating to other people is now much easier and faster compared to the old days. You don’t have to go to a postman to deliver your message. Now you can deliver your messages with just a click.

  6. lauraleewalker's Gravatar

    Posted by lauraleewalker on 19.01.11 at 1:20 pm

    Absolutely! Of course, there is also a much broader range of ways to communicate and there are implications in terms of etiquette and advantages and disadvantages of choosing each type of medium.

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