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Today is September 24, 2019

Grin 'n' Bare It

Social media: Good or bad?

Kay Grafe
Kay Grafe

Last week when my partner and I were having our daily 5:00 p.m. “board meeting,” my cell phone began beeping with incoming text messages.

After this occurred several times, Mr. Roy said, “Who in the world is sending all of those text messages?”

I said, “It's just people who want to be my friend on Facebook.”

Our oldest daughter, Dawn, set me up on Facebook during her last visit, and I haven't decided if I like it or not. Recently, I've had a large number of friend requests. I'm beginning to wonder if Facebook people ever sleep.

I knew Mr. Roy must have an opinion regarding this spreading phenomena, so I stood up, put my hands on my hips, looked him in the eye and said, “Well, I know you have an opinion about Facebook—you have one on on everything—so tell me what you think.”

His face became serious. “Honestly, I haven't completely decided.”

At first, I thought it was a complete waste of time. Now I wonder if the use of social media may be a good thing.

I was surprised. So I decided I needed to learn more about the subject before our next board meeting. My first source was Wikipedia, the internet dictionary/encyclopedia. After printing 18 pages of information, here is the condensed definition: Social media is computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.

Facebook and YouTube are prime examples of this definition. In fact, would you believe there are over 2 billion users of Facebook worldwide? That's over three times the population of the U.S.

At our next board meeting, I related to Mr. Roy what I had learned about social media. He said, “I understand how people can use it to keep up with friends and exchange information, but today I see where businesses advertise by saying 'visit us on Facebook.' How can a business make use of Facebook?”

“Well, I'm glad you asked. I had the same question,” I said.

I contacted my friend Lori Freeman, who is in charge of communications at our local electric cooperative to find out how they use it. Lori is very knowledgeable on the subject; I made notes regarding what she told me.

I decided to read it to him: “Facebook and other forms of social media are important communication tools for Singing River Electric Cooperative. The unique aspect is that it allows a two-way form of communication. Our members can talk to us and we can talk back to them, much like a face-to-face conversation.

“Facebook, Instagram and Twitter also allow us to reach our members quickly. We can post our message and in seconds thousands of Singing River Electric members have the option to see where electric outages are located and get storm updates or efficiency tips (how to save money). It's very prompt and is a vital part of our communication with customers.

“It's important to remember, however, that social media is only one tool in our communications tool belt. We still use communication through phone and office visits, television, radio and more,” Lori said.

I asked her if it was only the younger generation that they were reaching through social media. She said, “Oh no, you would be surprised how many older generation folks are big-time users of social media.”

So I asked Mr. Roy, “After hearing what I found out from talking to Lori, what do think about Facebook now?”

He was quiet for a few seconds, then said, “Well, an old dog is never too old to learn new tricks. When Dawn comes on her next visit, I'll ask her to give me a crash course on Facebook. She is the talker in our family. I have always liked new gadgets, plus this may be a good way to make contact with old friends that I haven't talked to since high school or college.”

"That's good,” I said, “but if you start getting friend requests at night that wake me up, you may have to move to the guest bedroom.”

Kay Grafe is the author of “Oh My Gosh, Virginia.” To order, send name, address, phone number and $16.95, plus $3.50 S&H to Kay Grafe, 2142 Fig Farm Road, Lucedale, MS 39452.

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