The Grandmother I Always Wanted: Yes, Grandmothers Do Use Social-Media - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Island News

The Grandmother I Always Wanted: Yes, Grandmothers Do Use Social-Media

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Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2019 4:54 pm

In my home, paper seems to collect in more places than the recycle bin. I have piles in several corners that contain books, comics, news articles, notes, and other things I intend to read or file. The piles just have not risen to priority yet. Last week I tore into one, however, and found a treasure: a plastic bag of 1965 letters from me to Mother, the year my first child was born. While I still have a few to read, I felt the sorrow of thinking that my grandchildren will probably not have the joy of reading their letters in fifty years.

Young parents seldom write a letter or even send a card except for an occasional thank you note to elderly relatives, but they do stay in contact with family and friends through social media. The instant gratification of texts, Instagram, and Facebook satisfies their connection requirements. In fact, they are much more knowledgeable about what is happening day by day to friends and relatives than we grandmothers were at that age. A letter from California to North Carolina took a week, and phone calls were too expensive to be frequent. Three-minute weekly calls relaying the basic information were typical in my family.

A 21-year old friend whom I mentor stated that his friends were surprised that I text and have a Facebook account. We old folks are supposed to be illiterate about technology. I know several of my peers do fit that profile, but they are becoming the exception. Texting is too convenient to resist. While shopping with someone, I often text “Where are you?” so we can rendezvous without walking the aisles searching. I can fire off a quick question to my daughter across the country and get an answer within a reasonable time, even when the question is not important. Today I texted Noah to ask how exams were going. Texting a quick note to my grandchildren keeps me connected to them and to other people who are important in my life. It may not be as personal as a phone call, but frequency counts, too.

Most grandmothers I know use some social media, so it always amazes me when I encounter a peer who refuses to text or open a Facebook account. Sometimes it feels as if that person considers himself superior for not using social media. Several years ago, my daughter mentioned an incident that I had not heard. When I voiced my ignorance, her quip was, “You’re not on Facebook,” so I got on Facebook. I am now more knowledgeable about what my children and grandchildren are doing, which means I can share their adventures and they can share mine in a timely manner.

This past weekend, I saw grandchildren’s postings of milestone events: Caroline and Abby’s junior prom pictures and Ainsley’s sixteenth birthday pictures. I knew my son-in-law had attended a dad’s weekend at Florida State with Joe and Phil. My cousin was at the Masters’ Tournament with his two sons and saw Tiger Woods’ win. A former student posted last year’s picture of her family standing in front of Notre Dame, and I thought of my trip there with Isabella three years ago while grieving that no more grandchildren will ever see the original cathedral.

I may go weeks without checking my Face Book account, but then I miss pertinent information I would have enjoyed knowing. I recently saw my dad’s 86 year-old-first cousin in her swimsuit in Hawaii with her granddaughter, my high school friend’s dog winning show ribbons, my second cousin’s children with their displays at their 4-H fair. That is connection I would have missed. We can keep up with those we probably would know little about if snail mail and phone calls were our primary means of communication. Feeling the immediate joy or sorrow instead of hearing it weeks later is better.

People can become caught up in social media; however, we adults should be able to control our time. I am startled when someone replies quickly to my comment while I am still reviewing the posts. At times I feel those people must be attached constantly, but I see their pictures of exciting activities, so I know they do have a life. “Like” is usually my only comment even though the news is interesting to me because my short comment would duplicate others. My time is precious, so I scroll through the banal and repetitious posts to glean current news of loved ones. Only when I have interesting updates do I post. Few people care what I had for breakfast or what I bought at the grocery store.

We older people should embrace technology and appreciate the benefits, use it to make life richer. Social media can be a valuable tool in letting others know we think of them often, in keeping the family close with updates of our interesting lives. Recognizing its negatives is important though. As we age well, being active and engaged in life’s playbook instead of living a sedentary, passive life in front of the computer or television should be one of our goals.

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