The Second Half: Are social seniors networking online?
By Kathleen D. Tresemer
I have been investigating the phenomena of online social networks (see last week’s column). I was surprised at the astonishing number of social networking sites out there, and many on the “Top 20” list were completely unfamiliar to me.
“If I am this out of touch,” I told Hubby, “I need to do some research! I wonder how many social networks are just for folks in their Second Half?”
“How many do you need?” Hubby retorted, turning back to his computer Solitaire game. No one has ever accused him of being “too social.”
A friend sent me a link to a newer social network called Snabbo.com, an acronym for Social Network Allowing Baby Boomers Only. Members born between 1946 and 1964 are invited to post a photo taken anytime from 1940-1989 and told:
Based on research and an overarching theory, Snabbo believes that as baby boomers enter this new phase of their life, they want to reconnect with their past…find family and friends and maybe even rekindle lost romances. Boomers want to recall their lives before they had the responsibilities of marriage, mortgage and kids. Snabbo can help baby boomers have a “Facebook” experience, only with the same “face” they had when they were in their prime.
I don’t know about you, but my “face” back then wasn’t much better than my “face” now, and I don’t enjoy pictures of either one. This idea of reconnecting with my past reminds me of my attitude about class reunions: “If I haven’t contacted them in all this time, why would I want to now?!”
Yes, I have a peripheral interest in how some of the characters from my youth turned out, and even what they might look like today, but mostly in passing and not enough to spend any time on it.
“I’m way too busy to live in the past!” I tell folks, “I have so much to do today and tomorrow, that the past will have to stay put!” I guess I could be missing an opportunity or two with this attitude, but I figure I am doing them a favor: most kids who didn’t like me enough to keep in touch after high school won’t like me any better today, I promise! I’ve just grown more “Kathleen-like” over the years.
In any case, I discovered that there are a bunch of Boomer sites out there, the most popular being Eons.com, the online community for spirited BOOMers founded by Jeff Taylor, creator of Monster.com. They offer an opportunity to share passions, interests, photos, videos and games that build your brain.
“I like the idea of games for brain health,” I tell Hubby, “but I don’t want to do them online.”
His clicking of the mouse never missed a move in his Solitaire game as he mentioned, “Your Brain Games book is over there…be careful, it’s a little dusty.” I think it’s sweet how he supports my efforts at brain health in spite of my non-traditional housekeeping.
Then, there is Boomergirl.com, a blog for women “born between 1946 and 1964 interested in life, love and laughs, menopause and men, good health and great friends, shopping and sex, travel, beauty and fashion and, above all, food…I mean, family.”
That is why I have friends—REAL, LIVE FRIENDS! I still don’t get it, unless you are stationed in Antarctica.
I found BoomerLiving.com—life solutions for active baby boomers—to be more informative and constructive with topical pages such as career, financial, wellness, travel, and a social change page titled “make a difference.” This would appeal to a more intellectual and involved type…although I would guess if you were engaged in this real-world stuff, you wouldn’t need an online social network.
One site actually piqued my interest—RedwoodAge.com. RedwoodAge describes their mission:
“The generation that came of age in the ’60s and ’70s changed the way we think about music, race, women, war, food, fashion, poverty, marriage, the environment and politics. Now, it’s going to change the way we look at aging, and RedwoodAge wants to help.
“Named for the majestic trees that grow to hundreds of years of age in northern California, RedwoodAge publishes news, information and blogs. We’re building community forums and networking tools to share and test ideas. And we urge people to take action—personally and socially, to enhance the quality of life for everyone, young or old. Our site follows four principles that inspired our motto: ‘Think. Share. Act. Live.’”
That got me interested…they go on to describe their principles further:
Critical Thinking—The best ideas emerge by challenging established thinking.
Sharing Information—So that others will benefit from your experiences.
Social Activism—Shape a future in which everyone ages with companionship, respect and health.
The Whole Life—A balance of intellectual strength, physical fitness and spiritual meaning is essential to living a satisfying life.
So, while I might not use their social networking function, I would go there for news and info geared to the Second Half. Articles on their home page include:
1. “A Prostate Drug’s Ugly Surprise”;
2. “Women who walk briskly can cut their stroke risk by 37 percent, says a new study”; and
3. “The FDA is cracking down on spas giving fat-melting injections.”
Pretty cool! You might not need it today, but when you are offered fat-melting injections or surprises in your prostate drugs, consult RedwoodAge…and take a brisk walk!
In her second half of life, Kathleen D. Tresemer is both a journalist and an award-winning fiction writer. She lives with her husband on a small ranch in rural Shirland, Ill. Kathleen can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the April 14-20, 2010 issue