I am a great fan of the internet in all its many forms, aren’t you? I love Twitter for the chat and the arguments. I enjoy fashion and makeup selfies from people who look to be just out of their rompers. I am fascinated by all those life affirming mission statements.

I always like to add ‘and cake’ after any of these quotes that stray onto my timeline. On Facebook, I can see pictures of friends’ families and pets and share their holidays and gardens. I can admire their new/old/improved kitchens.

Life Before the Internet

I can vaguely remember LBI (Life Before Internet). My world was much smaller, although I probably spent less time peering at a screen with a vaguely puzzled expression on my face.

 
 

One thing that I think social media does brilliantly is connect people. Especially the over 60’s. It is almost impossible to feel lonely if you belong to an internet community like Facebook or Twitter.

There are always people to chat to. Friends will pile in with advice even if you didn’t ask them. For the less mobile, there are internet book clubs. There are also what I call water-cooler groups that meet regularly online to chat. Whatever your interests, hobbies, political persuasion, religious inclination or food preferences, there are people out there who want to chat to you.

Fighting the Fear

With this in mind, I do my level best to encourage any similar aged or older folk where I live to get online. Because, despite the proverb, you CAN teach an old dawg new tricks. I know this because I am a prime example. I started my blog at the age of 62. A writing friend told me I needed a blog and a presence on social media to build my profile. This was to enable me to connect with readers and sell my books.

Now, I don’t consider myself a techie in any sense of the word. However, I have mastered a few bits and pieces along the way. What I didn’t realise was how this has transferred me into a different species from my non-computer literate contemporaries. It was brought home vividly a short while ago, when I was standing at the bus stop with my ‘crew.’ Called the Bus Pass gang, we were waiting for the bus into town.

Speaking Martian

Most of the crew are older than me, and do not trust computers. They do know I use one to compose my Victorian crime fiction novels. This is known as ‘the writing’, a dark perplexing matter. It is generally mentioned in a cautious sidling-up-to-it kind of way, as in: ‘So, how is the writing coming along, Carol?’ Thus it was on a bright spring morning that one of the gang, having cleared their throat, carefully inquired after ‘The writing’.

And then it happened. Without even thinking, I replied, ‘You won’t believe this. I nearly had to cancel my Facebook launch last Tuesday because I lost my Wi-Fi. And then Google spammed my blog and I had to go into a chatroom and download an app to sort it out.’

At this point the gang studied the ground in silence for a while. Eventually one of them murmured: ‘Didn’t understand a word of that, sorry.’ And the others agreed. Everyone stepped back from me as if I might infect them with whatever I’d got. And then, thankfully the bus arrived and we scrambled aboard. I noticed nobody sat next to me all the way into town.

So how about you? Are you a social media fan? Do you have friends who are scared of computers? Have you ever tried explaining the benefits of Facebook and Twitter? Do share your experience!

Carol HedgesCarol Hedges is the successful author of fifteen novels for teenagers and adults. Her books have been shortlisted for various prizes: her YA novel Jigsaw was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal and her historical novel Diamonds & Dust was listed for the 2013 CWA Historical Dagger. She is a cancer survivor, a vintage car driver, a cat owner and a doting grandma. She is currently writing the fifth book in her Victorian Crime series. She blogs on her website and posts on Facebook and Twitter about her life, her writing and minding her small granddaughter.

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