Social Media and Tribes #14: Taking Dinosaurs Online

by Deepika Bajaj on September 29, 2010

The outdated image of dinosaurs as maladaptive extinct monsters has led to the word “dinosaur” entering the vernacular to describe anything that is impractically large, slow-moving, obsolete, or bound for extinction. But here I am speaking of them very fondly and respectfully. And who I am talking about is the older generation who finds it extremely hard to navigate online yet they understand that if they need to stay connected to their grand kids or even stay updated they need to understand Facebook and Twitter.

There is a rising community of this tribe which is yearning for knowledge on how to create FB and Twitter profiles, upload pictures, share videos and chat through social media tools. During my current stay in India, I have had the rare privilege of coaching some elders in my family to get online so that they are able to connect with their children who are abroad or even in different cities and are now more accessible online than on mobile phones.

So, here are the challenges of this tribe:

  1. Can’t sit on Laptops for more than 20 minutes: Most of them are not accustomed to working on computers and find it hard to concentrate on laptops for long durations. Some of them get backaches, headaches or even lose attention. This is fascinating for me coming from a world of digital natives, where little kids decipher iPhones like they were simply unwrapping a candy bar and can sit for eons when playing with it!
  2. Privacy issues: The youth is open to connecting to different people and has a very different view on privacy issues than the older generation. The older generation don’t like to comment but are happy to get comments on their FB status. They feel if they comment then the whole world will know what they were communicating to that one person. The youth on the contrary is more worried about reputation management, security issues and intellectual issues like their content and pictures.
  3. Picky and Choosy: They are extremely picky about who will be their friends. They are not comfortable with connecting with friends of friends who they might be faintly acquainted to.
  4. Navigation: How to find friends on FB? No recollection of their friends recent names and even their batch mates. They find it extremely challenging to use tools like yahoo or gmail or friendfinder on FB to find friends. They write notes on simple navigation techniques to avoid forgetting how to do so.

To be fair to them, the last 2 decades have not been easy on them, from a technology standpoint. If the 1970-1990 felt like 40 years of technological advancements packed into 20 years, 1990-2010 almost feels like 80 years with the internet, social media and what not!

All in all, I am super excited about their openness to adapt with the times. There is a momentum in this tribe which is fueled by their inherent curiosity to discover the world of social media…Bravo to these brave souls…!

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