HomeFeaturesThe Great Debate: Social Media... Yay or Nay?

The Great Debate: Social Media… Yay or Nay?

Social media benefits may favor older generations

People’s opinions are generally polarized over social media. Some tout the benefits while others argue that the negatives outweigh the positives.

Keeping it personal

Margaret Penn, Yogaja Yoga and Yogaja Shop owner and mother to three young adults, employs social media daily for her businesses, but avoids it for personal use. She laughs that she has a Facebook page only because that’s how they organized and planned her high school reunion.

In Penn’s opinion, social media feeds the ego. The Ottawa Hills resident said, “I don’t need the whole world to know everything about me. I don’t understand why people want total strangers knowing and seeing everything they do. I don’t get it.”

She continues, “It’s not about keeping secrets; I just don’t need to know what people are eating for dinner or what vacations they’re taking, and I don’t think they need to know those things about me!”

Sylvania resident Nadine Nowak, retired RN, mother, and grandmother, said: “I do not use or participate in social media; I’m not comfortable with the responsibility of liking and disliking content. Everyone has the right to have an opinion, [but] it is so easy…to be critical when using a keyboard. I prefer to build a personal relationship rather than have a screen persona.”

Staying in touch

Jane Korte, retired administrator, mother, and grandmother (of grandchildren ages 2-18), holds a different view. She uses social media to “stay in touch with family, friends, and the world.”

Korte of Sylvania explains, “Quite frankly, I jumped on Instagram and Snapchat because my kids and grandchildren are on there, and it gives me a way to keep in touch and see what they’re doing. Because they are all tech savvy, they have taught me how to use these social media sites, and I love the connection I have with them.”

Korte recently returned to Twitter as well, and she says, “I love the new [Twitter] format, and because I don’t watch nightly news anymore, Twitter is a way for me to keep in touch on a broader level.”

She concludes, “It’s all about being and staying connected to people, places, and things!”

Donna Seed, social work manager, yoga teacher, mother and grandmother (of grandchildren ages 6-13), lies somewhere in the middle on the social media debate. She uses Facebook regularly but not any other platforms. With Facebook, Seed says, “I like that there is a sense of community–a connection and sharing of our life experiences. I also like that I can read news articles, watch a video from family and friends, and have certain Facebook groups that are dedicated to learning.”

Donna Seed on the left enjoying drinks with a friend at The Heights.
Donna Seed on the right enjoying drinks with a friend at The Heights.

As for the other platforms, such as Instagram, Seed reflects, “I am NOT a picture taker. I feel those platforms are over-dedicated to the self, and I struggle to find how this is productive.” She then adds, laughing, “I think this is just one of those generational issues that I have not been able to ‘cross over’ with technologically!”

Social connections | Keep in touch with friends/family

Prior to Facebook, the primary way to keep in contact with out-of-town family and friends was over the phone. Actual conversations cannot be replaced, but social media provides the opportunity to connect daily with a plethora of friends and family.

With social media, specifically Facebook and Instagram, you can view photos, hear about seemingly inconsequential events that might be forgotten by the time you connect via phone, connect daily or even multiple times a day, and keep up with numerous people all at once.

Joining the social media platform that your loved one uses the most can connect you in a way that infrequent visits and the occasional phone call cannot.

Sue Briddell, co-owner of Harmony in Life, retired high school business teacher, and mom to four adult children (ages 25-33), says that social media allows her to keep up with friends, family, and former students—many of whom are not local. She uses Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and while she does not personally post very often, she “enjoys keeping up with friends and family…and reading updates from my news feeds.”

Community | Connect to your community and local events

Social media is one of the best ways to connect with your larger community. Whether that means staying informed about local Toledo events and news or connecting with others who share similar interests, social media can be a reliable aide.

Donna Seed of West Toledo explains that she is a member of various Facebook groups that are dedicated to exploring, learning, and studying. She views Facebook as “a platform for sharing ideas, discussing issues, and connecting from around the world.”

While many think of Instagram as a feed of “selfies,” it can be used as a platform for diving deeper into your personal interests. There are feeds dedicated to running, cooking, yoga, makeup, interior design, art and much more. The most troublesome part of Instagram is taking the time to follow worthwhile individuals/companies who share your interests. Once you have a solid foundation, you will be supplied with informative and interesting posts pertaining to your hobbies, as well as updates from friends and family.

Stay relevant | Know what your kids/grandkids are doing and how social media impacts business

Whether or not we like it, social media is here to stay. It is a vital part of the lives of many people under 40, and social media can be an excellent way to learn about and bond with children and grandchildren.

While social media is relatively tame for adults, kids can post cruel things to and about one another. Being present on social media can help you keep an eye on the ones you love. Whether you worry about the photos your teenage grandson may post or what your young grandchild is viewing on Instagram, it’s helpful to be in the know.

Sue Briddell (Harmony in Life) and Margaret Penn (Yogaja Shop and Yogaja Yoga) agree that social media is essential to running a business. Briddell says, “As a business owner, social media is an effective way to get out our information about classes, services, yoga classes, and concerts.”

Margaret Penn, her three children (Jonathan 23, Isabelle 21, David 18), and her boyfriend/partner/soulmate Fred Sandberg after hiking Machu Pichu.
Margaret Penn, her three children (Jonathan 23, Isabelle 21, David 18), and her boyfriend/partner/soulmate Fred Sandberg after hiking Machu Pichu.

Penn concurs: “Social media is part of having a business. I think it’s a great way to reach many people in a very expeditious time frame. When it’s used as a communication tool and to update people, social media can be very beneficial.”

How to Navigate Social Media

TOLEDO LIBRARY: Toledo Lucas County Outreach Services now delivers more than books to your door. The service also provides the latest technology and computer lessons from their “classroom on wheels.” http://www.toledolibrary.org/outreach-services

YOUTUBE: YouTube is full of tutorials on how to use the various social media platforms, like these for Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Facebook: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAXnO3mjpm8
Instagram: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teTNnVcsukI
Snapchat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NZuJKQuDTg

FRIENDS/FAMILY: After years of YOU teaching your children and/or grandchildren, they will jump at the opportunity to help you learn whatever social media platform confuses you. This is some great quality time with you and a loved one, and it’s also a confidence boost for younger ones to be the “teacher” for a change!

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