My Dad is also one of my Facebook friends. Just to clarify, I’m way way over the age of needing parental supervision online: my father is in his early seventies.
He initially got a Facebook account to stay in touch with my brothers and his grandchildren abroad, to share photos and so on, however, he caught the social network fever, and now spends a lot of time being actively involved in online debates and in back and forth comments about the issues of the day. He has caught up with the basic jargon, and uses BRB, WTF, and LOL, in his daily lingo, leaving my mother a bit boggled and probably thinking; “haram, the poor man is beginning to go senile, what is he saying?” He told me he wanted to get a Twitter account next.
As many others of his generation, he is addicted to news, but now delights in getting his news from different sources and people, and discussing it instantaneously. He also likes the cheesy and corny notes, videos, and general gibberish that is thrown in the social media soup.
Not too many of his friends are on Facebook, probably none are, but he has managed to create his new virtual network of people that he interacts with regularly, and occasionally plays a game of online poker with. He is interacting with many people who are much younger than he is, and with whom he would not have the chance to interact in real life, and this is keeping him young too!
This got me to thinking that there might be a niche market that social networks had never counted on attracting: retirees who are not technologically challenged with time on their hands, and with ideas, knowledge, and insights to share.
People of my father’s generation can enrich the online experience with their insights, and they stand to benefit from this vibrant new communication method: It reintegrates them into the main stream of today’s quickly changing world of the “young”.