Social Media for the Masses

As I tweeted yesterday, it’s a very humbling and satisfying feeling, teaching your Web 2.0 illiterate dad to use Facebook. I’d call it research for #sotonsms, which is very soon to be making waves.

Being born into web culture, I can’t even begin to imagine how it must feel, being introduced to this extension of the physical world, that effectively brings it all closer together. There must be a considerable shock factor in discovering that your niece, or nephew, can take a picture of their newborn child on their BlackBerry, and have it delivered to your eyes, half-way around the world, in a matter of seconds. I don’t feel it, sadly. I grew up alongside the Web, and the Web grew up alongside me. Sentimental notions of nostalgia aside, it was quite refreshing to see how social media can be used as an energising force, an untapped resource for some, which holds the key for richer expansion of physical social networks. To most of us, this doesn’t sound like much, but I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about all of those who haven’t the faintest clue what social media is, or what it does. Call them what you like; digital immigrants, massive passives. Those who I’d go as far as to say they are actually fearful of technology, when actually, with some gentle poking in the right direction, they can start to see how social media is worthy of being classed as a new friend. I’d imagine the realisation is like a switch flicking. One minute, Australia seemed ever so far away. Once the vast and mysterious land visited once or twice on holiday. The occasional phone call, or wad of pictures through the letterbox is as far as your knowledge goes, with regards to the day-to-day lives of your family in Oz. All of a sudden, you know what your dearest relation across the pond is eating for dinner, at that very moment. Australia is literally on your doorstep, all of a sudden. For that to happen… Well, I’d say my dad’s lucky his head didn’t explode.

I doubt my dad will ever become a social media maverick, like me or you, say, but I certainly hope that he continues to want to explore this new world, and all its wonderful benefits. Yesterday, I talked my dad through leaving comments on Facebook profiles, and even taught him how to snap a snazzy new profile picture, using our webcam. For anyone in the business of training digital passives in using social media, it can get a bit tedious. Left click this button, scroll down, left click that, highlight that (left click then drag the cursor), right click, click Copy (left click), right click, then left click Paste. Even reading it back, it sounds terribly tedious, but it’s something that a lot of us take for granted. We don’t even think about how computers work; we just use them, whereas for some, it must be like learning to see again. It’s a monumental task, but I’m sure there’s hope for my dad.

There was a point yesterday when my dad discovered the baby pictures of the sister of an ex co-worker of his, who has since moved to Poland. They were quite close. The minute those pictures hit the screen, my dad began cooing. His face lit up, and for a moment, I became infinitely more interested in watching his reactions, than watching what was on screen. It almost brought a tear to my eye.

There’s certainly something humbling about teaching the Web to the man who brought you up, and taught you the ways of the world. In some ways, I’m sort of returning the favour, by helping him find his feet in the digital world. That’s what I’d like to think, anyway.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s