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Staying connected

Eagle’s Trace residents immerse themselves in social media platforms

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December 13th, 2016
Eagle’s Trace resident Dan Wagner (left) and Erickson Living Public Affairs Manager Jeff Getek recently teamed up to give a presentation at the West Houston community about popular social media platforms.

Eagle’s Trace resident Dan Wagner (left) and Erickson Living Public Affairs Manager Jeff Getek recently teamed up to give a presentation at the West Houston community about popular social media platforms.

Dan Wagner marvels at how far technology has come.

“The kid in me still can’t believe I can watch a movie in my living room,” he says.

And yet so much has changed since televisions became commonplace in American homes. The Internet explosion has changed the way we get our news and interact with others. This movement is sweeping through every demographic, adding one more notch on the timeline of progress.

“There’s more information out there than ever before,” says Jeff Getek, public affairs manager for Erickson Living. “Everything’s moving to the digital realm. That’s where technology is taking us.”

Getek recently teamed up with Dan to give an overview of social media’s most popular platforms. The duo’s presentation took place at Eagle’s Trace, the Erickson Living community in West Houston, Tex., where Dan lives.

“I signed up for a Facebook account four years ago,” says Dan. “I use it to keep up with my kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, and former work colleagues. I find I’m communicating through Facebook more and more.”

More than 100 Eagle’s Trace residents attended the presentation, many with their own smartphones and tablets in hand.

“Since 2010, the biggest jump in social media users has been among those 60 and older,” says Getek. “They’re eager to learn, and that’s the purpose of this presentation.”

Facebook

Getek opened his remarks with two caveats. First, be cautious what you write on the Internet.

“Always re-read what you write,” he says. “Once you post something, it’s difficult to make it disappear.”

The second warning concerns Internet scams.

“Ignore requests and invitations from people you don’t know,” says Getek. “If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.”

Dan added his own Facebook illustration to drive home the point.

“It seems like nine billion people want to be my friend,” says Dan. “I only accept friend requests from people I know.”

Facebook, founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, allows people to sign up for a free account and invite others to be online “friends.” Once accepted, the friends’ posts will appear in your timeline—a feed of posts, news, and photos.

It’s also possible to “like” business and celebrity pages. For instance, Erickson Living has a Facebook page at facebook.com/ericksonliving.

Twitter

“Twitter is like the old newswires,” says Getek. “Users post a short message—140 characters or fewer—to their Twitter accounts.”

Twitter, like Facebook, is a free website that allows users to post comments from their mobile devices, giving rise to a new wave of citizen journalism.

“People’s posts on Twitter influence Internet traffic,” says Getek. “A quick look at Twitter can let you know what topics are trending online.”

Several Eagle’s Trace residents had questions about Twitter, specifically the role of the hashtag symbol.

“Hashtags are created by users, and they function essentially as an index,” says Getek. “Let’s say several people use the hashtag #astros in their tweets. Twitter users who want to read more about the Houston Astros can search #astros, and the results will include everything that’s been written using that hashtag.”

YouTube

YouTube is a video sharing site founded by three PayPal employees in 2005.

“It’s like Google, but all the results show up as videos,” says Getek. “Users can search for any topic they want on YouTube.”

To illustrate his point, Getek typed “Frank Sinatra concerts” in YouTube’s search box. The second result was a link to Frank Sinatra’s performance with the Count Basie Orchestra from October 1965.

“It’s amazing to me that we can watch a Sinatra concert from 1965 on our computers,” says Dan.

Keeping in touch

As the holidays approach, social media provides the tools to keep in touch with family and friends, particularly those who don’t live nearby.

“I rely on social media to stay connected with my family,” says Dan. “Facebook messages come more frequently than phone calls. It’s the way of the future.”

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