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The Ever-Expanding Blogosphere

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It’s funny how I came upon this realization – it was through my treadmill. Okay, not literally through my treadmill, but because I was ready for my daily tread on it and had pretty much exhausted everything I wanted to listen to on my iPod. So I snapped on the TV for something to watch while spending an hour walking nowhere. News being what it is today, I decided I couldn’t walk fast enough to get away from anything they were airing and quickly switched to the next channel. As it happened, the show was Daily Café on Retirement Living TV. I didn’t even know this channel existed, I’m ashamed to say.

They were talking about keeping elderly parents or grandparents vital and active once they moved into retirement.

This day they had a wonderful grandmother cooking up something in what was obviously her own kitchen, so I just had to watch more. As it turned out, it was a podcast done by Bubbe’s grandson Avrom and featured her at home in her kitchen cooking kosher. Feed Me, Bubbe. What fun! This was followed by various celebrities who related their stories of getting their older family members active on the computer.

For most of the people past 65, just the thought of buying a new computer gives them hives. But to actually start something like a blog or to join a message board or chat room was, to quote them, way too hard to do. “Something for young people, but not them.” They had learned how to bank online and shop online – why not enter the world of blogging? Why were they intimidated by this aspect of computer use? Have we perpetuated those feelings?

So I took it upon myself to seek out some of the more adventuresome post-65-year-olds who had leaped into the fray so to speak, and was amazed at just how many there are. And how damn good they are too! No longer is blogging a world completely dominated by gossip mongers or people with axes to grind. We are now joined by people of experience. People who aren’t drawing from books to talk about what happened 50 years ago, but instead were actually there when it happened and lived it. Blogs like Welcome to Katalusis by Virginia Bergman, a wonderful site filled with warmth and insight.

To further my enjoyment of these focused blogs, they hadn’t yet become splogs. By that I mean so loaded down with ads and click-me banners that you can no longer find the blog itself right away. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that making pin money from blogs is a bad idea. But when the ads take up more of the blog space than the writing does, it's no longer a blog; it's mainstream media with some token commentary. I actually visited one site where the entire day’s post was a plea for readers to click on the ads there!

Then too, there are the social sites such as MySpace and Twitter which are further eroding the sense of community that blogs originally fostered. These “social media sites” look more like newspaper inserts for Wal-Mart, Sears or Kohl’s. Further, as bloggers work toward that professional blog status, we lose that whole essence of blogging that attracted us “amateurs and personal journalists” in the first place. Seeing these sites, is it any wonder the storytelling people and people with histories among us shy away from blogging?

I so welcome the day when we can expand back to that. I wish I still had a grandmother to get hooked. I know she would have embraced the whole concept and been the best blogger this side of 70.

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  • http://vikk.typepad.com/down_the_writers_path/ Vikk Simmons

    Admittedly, I’m a writer so my immediate social circle contains computer-savvy “elderly” people, so I would not be surprised at finding the not-so-young pounding away at their keyboard and morphing into late-bloomin’ bloggers. Blogs are a great way to preserve attitudes and opinons, memories and perspectives. And, as we all know, age makes a person more certain of their opinons so having a blog is probably a good way to release some inner tension when today’s world careens toward an uncertain future. My dad is in his 90s. Had blogging erupted in an earlier decade he would have easily slipped into the mode. But today his emphysema drains his eneregy and his aging swallows his memories. A former NASA engineer, he would have loved this bright new world. His father, a lifelong local historian and weekly columnist for the local paper, would surely evolved into another of the new media’s historians and taken advantage of this publishing avenue. The young may not retain their hold on the Internet as the aging process continues. :)

  • http://www.back-to-the-egg.blogspot.com/ Ginger Haycox

    Vikk,
    How sad it is when I hear things like your Dad’s situation. That he would if he could. Not only is it frustrating for him, but for you too, I’m sure. I am relating today for similar reasons.
    While my brother isn’t what would be considered elderly, he is one who always balked learning the computer. He never owned one – refused in fact, to have his daughters teach him on theirs, saying those things were for geeks & office workers. Yes, you’d be right if you said his thinking is that of a 120 year old! This is a man who loves history, who loves reading about wars & who collects coins & loves talking to others about that. And an avid fisherman always wanting to know the latest & greatest gadgets for fishing.

    However, while he refused to learn the workings of the computer, he never stopped giving everyone lists of things he wanted us to look up for him ‘on that damn thing’.

    So how surprised was I when visiting a few weeks ago to see a shiny new laptop sitting on his coffee table? His daughter had bought it for him hoping it would lure him. She showed him how to do email but also to use Word. He informed me he wasn’t going near ‘that internet’! When I asked why, he said he knew about it & it just didn’t sound like something he’d be the least bit interested in. I keep thinking given some time, perhaps he’d venture there, but he has cancer & I don’t know if his time left will allow him to do the things he’s always robbed himself of.

    Thanks for sharing about your Dad. Maybe just reading online would give him some pleasure?