A Facebook Page

A Facebook Page

If you weren’t born in the computer era, social media might be intimidating. With any new Internet technology, I sometimes I think I might break the computer, or never figure out how to make the programs do what I want.

I was born in the Post-World War II Baby Boom, 1948.  I started learning social media on the Internet when I was 45, an old dog who had to learn a lot of new tricks.  Most of us have learned to use e-mail, word processors, Internet search engines like Google, and whatever programs we need at work.

But we’re not as good or confident on the Internet as any kid.  They grew up with Internet technology. Internet language is their native language.  They know they can correct or undo any mistake without damaging anything.

Learning Social Media: I Needed Help Learning Twitter
Learning Social Media: I Needed Help Learning Twitter

For boomers, learning social media and Internet programs can be unfamiliar stuff that uses unfamiliar language. Like strangers in a strange land, we get confused, nervous, stressed, and frustrated when new program installation wizards give us pop-up messages and choices we don’t understand.

Sometimes, the computer seems unpredictable, like when I ask the computer to do one thing and another happens, or when I don’t know whether to choose Yes or No, when installing a program.

It takes me a long time to learn new things and new terminology.  I get stressed out, give up easily, or don’t try at all.

Learning Social Media is Essential Today

But learning social media is essential for people who wish to follow and participate in the mental health recovery/empowerment movement.  We use social media as parlors, to exchange information, discuss ideas, and circulate interesting articles and web pages.

Facebook is most important for movement people learning social media..  It is easier to learn than Twitter, and allows you to spread more information.

Learning Social Media from a Kid

For Boomers learning social media, the most efficient way is to ask anyone under 35 to show you how.  They’ve all been on the Internet since childhood, and practically all use Facebook and Twitter.

A “kid mentor” can be anyone young enough to be my kid. The “kid mentor” who helps me with teaches with learning social media is 37.

Most kids are glad to share what they know.  But don’t let them explain things to you unless you are both at your computers, on the phone, open to the same screen, or sitting side by side at your computer. Never believe them when they say learning social media is easy.

Learning social media quickly becomes easy once you’re up and running.

The best kid mentors make you do it yourself while they talk you through it step by step. That way, you’ll remember it.  If they show you how to do something, don’t let them leave until they have watched you do it yourself.  After that, the only way to learn new computer technology is to use it.  If you have a problem or get confused, call your kid mentor.

Now that I’ve been learning social media for a while, and can do the basics,  my kid mentor makes me try to solve problems myself before I call her for the answer.  She’s taught me several ways to find answers myself, like typing the question into a search engine and seeing what comes up. When I have a problem, or want to learn something new on Facebook, I type the question onto my page that all my FB friends see. I always get a bunch of suggestions  .

I remember the solutions I find myself, and learning social media tricks on my own at my age is incredibly satisfying and validating.    My kid mentor teaches me to fish, which lasts a lifetime, before she gives me a fish, which lasts a day,

The Danger of Social Media

Social media can take over your life if you’re not careful.  I’ve spent whole days on social media.  I start my writing day on Facebook, scanning my news page, checking my status page for Likes and Comments, and writing a status.

It gets out of hand sometimes when comments on comments on comments start multiplying.  But often, that’s the most fun, interesting, social part of social media.

Bestselling author Tosca Lee wrote a funny, only slightly exaggerated blog about this peril of social media. Self-control is your only defense against it, unless you close your social media accounts, like my nephew just did because they were taking too much of his time.

Not Learning Social Media Is No Option

Recently my kid mentor told me about someone who said, “Well, I just don’t have time for social media.” Then two sentences later, her friend  said, “I’ve been trying to get people together in my hometown for advocacy around the problems with medications, and I just haven’t been able to get anything started.”

We don’t have time NOT to use social media.

Facebook event invitations can tell 500 people about your event in 15 minutes. If they are excited about the event that’s open to the public, they can invite THEIR friends, too, in seconds.

Text messaging can get information to 50 people in 20 minutes, and each person can respond in just 30 seconds if they want. Kids don’t mind getting invited to parties electronically instead of by snail mail or phone, my kid mentor says.

Egypt's "Egypt Moment" Was Started and Sustained on Social Media
Egypt’s “Egypt Moment” Was Started and Sustained on Social Media

That technology and thinking overthrew, absolute, repressive dictators in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, who controlled all the other media in their countries.  It started Occupy Wall Street, spread it all over the country, and keeps it together.

If the recovery/empowerment movement ever has an “Egypt moment” that changes the mental health system, it will start, spread, and be sustained on social media.

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