Do you use social networking? How do you use it? What benefits has it brought to your life?
Before you decide about joining a social network, it is a good idea to know what you hope to gain from joining a site. You can join a lot of sites and gain nothing but aggravation, or you can join a few that you will use strenuously or at least regularly and gain several benefits. Whatever you do, don’t avoid social networks because of fear because it is the current way of reaching out to your own relatives, friends and associates and staying in touch. Never in the past have we had the opportunity to reach out to our friends so easily to stay in touch.
Here are a few tips. If you want to join, say, Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram or other sites, learn what it is that they can do for you. For example, Facebook is largely a space for sharing friendly information with a circle of friends. It is also a tool that many people have found to be useful for finding friends from the past and relatives that are scattered around the world. If you are afraid of what it is all about, remember that you can join and participate very little until you get used to the way that you wish to present yourself and how openly. With Facebook’s choices of privacy settings, albeit a bit clunky to find at times without some work, you can keep everything private, allowing viewing by the people you have chosen as friends; keeping your circle of friends limited to only a few may help you to get your feet wet before you think that you need to friend—yes, in Facebook language, “friend” is a verb—a hundred or more people. Also, you can shut down your account at any time and pretty easily restart it as you wish. All in all, Facebook is a good place to follow the lives of your Facebook friends, especially if you cannot get out to see them in person.
Twitter is different from Facebook. It is more about sharing information, especially information that is timely or trendy. It is a place where the face of news, celebrity and the corporate world take on an identity in order to share up-to-the-minute information with fans and clientele. Twitter is a place where bloggers, writers and others who wish to share news convene and announce their latest contribution. It is a place where a Tweeter wishes to reach out to a growing audience. Facebook users, on the other hand, reach out to a defined group of friends; this excludes Facebook junkies who add friends ad nauseam in order to rack up their number of friends. On Facebook your friends, if they are truly your friends, may very well enjoy knowing where you went for vacation or for dinner, while on Twitter no one really cares where or what you ate for dinner unless you are the Queen or the First Lady.
LinkedIn is a site that is dedicated to linking individuals through their professional connections. Your LinkedIn associates may likely be very separate from your Facebook friends. Pinterest allows you to share with the world images you find online. Instagram allows you to share images you create.
Chat rooms and other interest groups are individualized places of social interaction for a dedicated purpose. If you are interested in Pink Floyd, you can find a chat room or interest group to discuss The Wall. Or, if you are interested in bald eagles or wild life, you can find a chat room or an interest group to discuss those varied topics.
Recent recommendations for creating identities indicate now that it is better to have fewer identities. For this reason many sites, especially interest groups and social networking sites allow you to use your established identity from, say, Facebook or Twitter, to log on at those other places so as to eliminate the need to create a new identity and password. For instance, if you belong to ten chat rooms, you can use the same Facebook logon instead of having to create ten separate identities and passwords, which can require some time to set up and then additional resources to recall or maintain in a safe place.
Finally, one of the most important aspects of social networks is the sharing of useful information. Sure, one might argue there is a lot of silly and useless information being passed around, but it is quite true that we learn a lot from the good information that others share. We learn about conferences, topics of discussion in chat rooms, presentations and even lots of good information about our various communities. For example, in the breast cancer community alone I find a lot of information posted from other reputable bloggers and organizations.
Finally, social networking does what it says: gives us a place to network with friends around the globe. It might have started with kids in school, but I would guess that the number of retirees using it to reconnect and stay in touch with family and friends has maybe not outrun the younger generation but is moving full speed ahead in keeping pace.5 6 7 8
© 2004–2012 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.