I was trying to explain social media to my Grandma today.
She’s 82 and very sharp, so I thought that with a bit of patience, she’d get it. I talked her through Facebook and Twitter and even showed her some blogs – she nodded along, asked questions and seemed to grasp the concept. But then she said something which made me stop:
“So, after a couple of hours my head will be filled with information? But I could have made a quilt.”
She’s right. How many hours could you spend online just being nosey about other people’s lives and following one link from another, reading all sorts of random information? Sure, you gather knowledge, but how useful is it really? And what should you really have been focusing on while you let the web entangle you?
Strangely enough, I find Twitter is often the answer. If you believe in “followers for vanity, relationships for sanity” you can actually tailor your Twitter page to be your own personal news feed of the web. You can get your fix of celebrity gossip or chat from your friends, while also following the people who give out useful information.
My favourite tweeters are the ones who are experts in their field and post links generously – you trust the source so you know reading the blog/watching the YouTube clip/viewing the picture is not going to be a waste of time. I like following my favourite bars and restaurants because then I know what and where the special offers are. I find it useful to get the headlines from the various news outlets, because then I don’t have to trawl their news pages. You can even, if you’ve got enough followers, use Twitter as a mini-Google – post a question and see who comes up with a decent reply.
So what I really need to do now is go back to Grandma and re-phrase my explanation in more relevant terms. If she spends two hours pulling together all the threads of her online search into a Twitter feed she will in fact be left with a very useful quilt.