The ups and downs of social media

by Linda Shaffer

Go figure. After spending 35 years in the newspaper business I am addicted to news. This can be good news or bad and I take it any way I can get it, as long as it is based on a set of facts and comes from sources I trust. There has been a lot of news lately having to do with social media so I thought it was probably time for me to figure out just exactly what that was. I kind of figured you’d want to know this information too because this very thing you are reading, which was once a newspaper column, is now a Facebook blog. It’s in an online newspaper too but I’m not sure what it’s called there other than Geezer Tribe. I do know it’s part of social media.
I don’t know much about the world of social media. For this reason I did an online search to find out just what it is. Merriam-Webster’s site can be reached but you have to sign in to get a complete definition and I did not choose to do that. The following short definition is from them but if you want more, you can sign in!
Social media. Noun, plural in form but singular or plural in construction. Definition of social media: forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos).
So there you have it. Just to get another opinion or two I went to Wikipedia of which I am a great fan. There is enough on this site to keep me reading for the rest of my life and what I learn there usually prompts me to do more research on whatever topic I am looking for. They say, “The earliest form of social media may have roots in the 1840s introduction of the telegraph, which connected the United States.” Of course this caused me to keep reading and I got stuck on the introduction of the internet and decided it was best for all of us to get the heck out of there and get on with this story.
Facebook is really about the only social medium I know about, unless you count my rarely-used cell phone and the times I send pictures to my kids on it. Oh yes, I did have my first interactive computer appointment with a specialist in Corvallis last week. This only happened because it was all set up for me and all I had to do was push a button, try to be in front of the camera on my computer and talk. For me and I’m sure a lot of us right now, this is an upside to having access to social media. My daughter is able to work at her job in Salem from her desk across the driveway, definitely a positive outcome of online communication.
I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook but I like it a lot. It puts me in touch with all of you, many of whom have become friends over the years in addition to the group of friends I already had who are part of Facebook. I get to see photos of my family that I wouldn’t otherwise see and photos of your grands and great-grands too! I love the cartoons and funny memes people share. I enjoy recipes and being in touch with others who share a love of cooking. I look forward to friends sharing photos of beautiful sunsets or family vacations. For me, there’s a whole lot to like about Facebook but that’s probably because I choose to leave my politics behind when I enter there.
I see posts from people who are angry at Facebook or others for one thing or another. At least they can voice their opinions so long as they stay in guidelines. From personal experience I know that people complain or file complaints about posts they don’t like from politics to puns. I once got a warning from Facebook about language. I never understood that one but it did remind me to look at the rules again! I’ve been gosh-darned careful since then dagnabbit. If I see posts on Facebook that I don’t like I ask not to see that type of post. It works.
I know a lot of people who don’t like Facebook and I understand. I’m there because I don’t know how to tweet and have never figured out Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn or any of the other bazillion places you can go to communicate to other people. I like to keep my technological skills very limited. If I can turn on my computer, get to Facebook, write this column and search the internet when necessary, I’m a happy camper.
The one thing I know is that the art of conversation is the best form of communication. You can’t beat a good old bull session. Though rare these days, talking with friends and family face to face is the best social media, whether you find it in the definition or not. Be safe this week.