A technophobe’s dilemma

by Loren Bailey

The headline read: “Survey: More Americans get news from internet than newspapers or radio.” The fact that I read this story on demonstrates its point exactly. The article goes on to state, “three-fourths say they hear of news via e-mail or updates on social media sites.” To further demonstrate its point, I heard about the quake in Chili from an old coworker over Facebook and the shooting at the Pentagon from my cousin via Twitter. I usually keep tabs on the news several times a day, but I definitely keep up with social media more often.

Facebook started while I was in college, so I was in the target market. As my network of friends quickly grew and as Facebook expanded, I friended my college-age cousins, and for the first time in my life, I spoke with them more than once or twice a year. Since then, 76 percent of my family, pretty much anyone old enough to adhere to the Facebook terms of use, has an account (I counted). Facebook keeps me in contact with old friends as well as allows me to share photos with family to bridge the gap between holidays, to keep up with my growing nieces, nephews, and cousins. After a recent family reunion, I realized how important staying connected with my extended family has become to me, and Facebook has made that easier than ever. Facebook is a regular part of my life and for better or worse, it keeps me close to those who may be far away.

Twitter, however, has proved less useful. I was already well established on Facebook when Twitter hit the scene, and I would rather not have to maintain multiple social networking accounts. Twitter is greatly lacking in the feature department compared to Facebook, and not as many people in my close network use it. Facebook is more personal. I share information, pictures and updates about my life with my friends. Twitter lacks the personal connection for me. Even though my updates on Twitter were few and far between, I couldn’t convince myself to delete my account because, even though less people I knew use Twitter, many companies, organizations, public figures and even celebrities and bands were regularly updating their feeds.

With the realization that I rarely updated my own Twitter status and that it wasn’t really working for me as a “social networking” site, I still liked the connection it provided to those who are out of reach. I decided to revamp the role Twitter plays in my life. I don’t worry about updating my Twitter feed anymore and I deleted those friends whose updates also show up on Facebook (sorry, please don’t take any offense!). I sought out those people and organizations that had something to offer. I quickly found all types feeds that piqued my interest.

Since then, my experience with Twitter has improved. I now use it as an educational tool rather than networking. I don’t expect to become best friends with the CEO of Zappos or the editor of Bon App’tit magazine (although, I certainly wouldn’t mind….), but I do respect their opinions and Twitter allows me to be on the receiving end of their knowledge. I would never expect to be Facebook friends with Scott Kelby, the president of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, but I follow him on Twitter as a filter for the latest design news. If someone as influential in the design industry as Kelby thinks something is important, I should probably know about it too.

After I connected to my favorite bands and news networks, I turned my attention to what was going on in the Triad that I wanted to be a part of. Working for YES! Weekly, I am typically more knowledgeable about local happenings than most, but that was starting to not be enough. I started to follow places like the Stocked Pot because I love to cook and aspire to take cooking classes in the future as well as Caff’ Prada in downtown Winston-Salem, a favorite summertime spot for my husband and me. With spring approaching, I cannot wait to see what the Triad has in store, and I hope to be well informed about those events because my Twitter feed told me so.

Maybe one day I will have something that is worth writing a Twitter feed about, but until then, I will spare the world my 140 character updates and focus on how to best use the available social media to enrich my life.