I admit it. I could very well be addicted to this computer, and not all of it is about writing stories. I use Face Book, and I play games. I’m probably on FB more often than I should be, but I can justify the pastime, for the most part. Primarily, I use that particular social media tool to keep in touch with my readers, and for promotion. Beyond promotional purposes, I read other people’s comments far more often than I post comments of my own. I’m a lurker, a silent witness to the trials and tribulations that others are willing for me to know about (I figure they must be if they make those comments in the first place). I don’t mean for that to sound cynical. In truth, the openness of others is a particular blessing. Reading what people are willing to share is a means of understanding what people are thinking about, what they’re experiencing, and what’s important to them.
When I first became a published author, I joined the social media site of the day, My Space. I tried to use My Space, but I found it confusing. I consider myself a reasonably smart woman, but there is this invisible shield between myself and certain technological applications, and unfortunately, My Space is one of them. As is Photo Shop, and my most recent attempt (and fail) to be savvy, Tumblr.
Despite my being challenged by them, by and large, I think all of these innovations—not just Face Book and other social media sites, but the very heart of it all—the Internet itself—as being a tremendous advantage to people who are curious about other people, and most especially, to those who are mobility challenged.
When I first went “online” I mostly did what a lot of people in the beginning did with their computers. I played games. There’re several “game” sites on the web that are free. My daughter showed me one, and it had bingo! It didn’t take me long to form this new habit.
This particular site that I frequent had “chat rooms”. At the time, I was still recovering from my triple by-pass surgery. I was practically a shut-in in those days. This was a long, slow recovery for me. Moving around was painful and it took me a good three years post-op before I was feeling anywhere approaching normal.
In that time, I turned to the computer for company, and I’ve pretty much not changed that habit in more than a decade. In the beginning of my computer addiction, I played those games—bingo mostly, but some different forms of solitaire too, and Mah-jong. And I chatted with other people, many of whom were also physically challenged. Friendships were formed, and a few of those friendships are still vibrant today.
Several of the people I chatted with were elderly. Women and men, to a one they were delighted with their computers and the new world of socialization that it opened up for them. A few of these people even confessed to having been so lonely before their families got them online, they cried often.
Now, of course, while I spend a lot of time at the keyboard, much of it is in support of this wonderful career I have. This computer, this means of communication, has provided me with my second chance at being a contributing member of society.
I hear people who use a computer at their day jobs say that once they get home, they don’t want to go near a keyboard. Quite frankly I thought I would be that way, too. I spend anywhere from eight to twelve hours most days, writing. But unless there is something on television that I particularly want to watch, or some chore I need to get done, here I sit. I wear a step-counter to help me to remember to get up and move around, but otherwise, this is my “station”.
I know of some people my age and older who don’t want to be bothered with this medium. They believe it is a fad that will go away. Others—far in the majority—want to pursue every new innovation they can.
A friend of my brother’s said it best. We were all having a discussion about cell phones and texting, and he asked her why she wanted to even bother. He’d tried, he said, but never found the need for all these modern devices.
She raised one eyebrow and told him, “I don’t want to be left behind!”
Wise words. I think I’ll frame them.