The truth is, many seniors already are using one social media platform or another. For instance: one of Facebook’s largest growing demographics are people over the age of 55. Women over 50 are on Pinterest: after all, Pinterest is the best place to window shop in the world. It’s an entertaining place that has many interesting ideas in recipes, DIY projects, knitting ideas, drawing, art, books and so much more.
Seniors want to be on social media for the same reasons everyone else does: to stay in touch, to keep up to date with news and information and to be entertained.
Maybe around 2007-2009 it would have been rare to see someone over 35/40 using Facebook (but not Twitter). But since then internet has become a ubiquitous part of our everyday lives. Everyone is on there (although this in itself is not a good reason to join) talking with each other, challenging each other and generally living.
Which is odd, or at least something you might expect to see in a Philip K. Dick or Arthur C. Clarke story. Billions of people every day stare at a computer screen talking and laughing with friends, reading up on the latest technologies; learning how to cook, how to knit, how to paint and draw.
Seniors want to be on social media because it can help them to stay active; maybe not physically but certainly it can help them stay mentally active—you don’t need your legs to use social media. Which may sound insensitive, but the truth is for bedridden seniors they don’t have much to look forward to during the day—what if they could video call a night just for a few minutes. Or receive a short video message before bed.
Did you know in that late 90s the internet was called a fad? Businesses entrenched in their ways said it would never be able to take off because television and radio were already so well established: the really believed the internet could never break into the market.
Needless to say, those naysayers were on the wrong side of history. And for those who said television and radio would die: they were wrong too. While radio and television aren’t as important or powerful as they were pre-internet, they are still a big part of people’s lives.
People, as a species, crave connectivity. Modern humans fear loneliness the way cavemen feared the dark. It’s not being alone that’s bad—many people crave being alone. But loneliness is an evil beast, you can be surrounded by loved ones, by people who genuinely care for you and love you and still feel lonely.
That’s what people don’t understand. To the uneducated a nursing home prevents loneliness because there are so many bodies in one place. But that’s what they are bodies. To the lonely, a room full of people means nothing, because what they crave they cannot find, and they cannot find it because they don’t know what it is.
The internet has provided people with a way to connect, a way to find people who are like-minded: a way to stymie the loneliness.