A report this week states that Facebook is the most used social media platform for the over 40’s: we may have initially joined FB to keep up to date with our friends and family, but increasingly we are using it to connect to like-minded tribes who share our curiosity about life. However, along with this expanded engagement, we increase the hazards that widening our social media circle exposes us to. Just because we are adults doesn’t mean we aren’t prey to bullies or to adding our own opinions to someone’s FB post without thinking first about the consequences of our behaviour. I haven’t come across a guide for online manners aimed at our generation; the assumption may well be that we have grown out of playground tactics. That’s not my experience and I know from talking to friends that many of us have familiarity with the comment on our carefully shared FB post, which makes us feel stupid; the casual remark we post in reply to another’s online page that in retrospect sounds like a dig. – I have done this myself and apologised for my hasty response, I think we could all do with more space between what we write and the send key.-And I have certainly been on the receiving end of an online slight which leaves me musing over the intention of the commentator; I have been known to mull over the whole basis of a friendship, revaluate every face-to-face meeting and shed tears over whether a person actually ever ‘liked’ me from a three word retort on FB.
At the Goldie editors meeting this week – oh yes we take this publishing malarkey very seriously – Jeanie and I discussed how we could best create a community that supports every member in a positive way and make it clear that we won’t tolerate even the most passive-aggressive bullying. Once we get to ‘our age’ we may well feel we have a right to voice our views, – even unasked for – and that somehow we are merely being straight-talking when we express our judgments. We may well feel we are being authentic; we have earned our badge of experience and wear it with pride. Just to be clear I’m not saying we shouldn’t have a strong voice, I’m all for disagreement and healthy controversial dialogue; Goldie wants true diversity of opinion; to be a space where it is ok not to agree. However that space needs to contain respect for difference, and the understanding that nuances are what make life interesting; Jeanie and I regularly disagree, we are grown-ups so we can accept that our friendship isn’t based on one of us being right and the other wrong. How bland would Goldie be if it was full of content that only shared one position?What we do agree on is that everyone feels better for being friends with others who encourage them to be their best possible self; that snipping and bitching is no way to behave, and generating negativity will not do anyone any good.
Which leads me on to a question I have been asked frequently, “can I only answer the three questions on ageing in a positive light? ‘Cause actually, I don’t want to get old it’s going to be awful!”
The answer is “please tell me about your experience.” It is not my job to tell someone their wrong; “oh no haven’t you heard getting old is great…we are all looking forward to it.”
Prior to our meeting on Friday Jeanie chatted to a stranger, Charlotte, who was not looking forward to getting older; her take on it was fear. In fact, she said, “I’d rather get run over by a bus…” After speaking to Jeanie I hope that Charlotte may have, even for a brief moment, felt more positive…she was laughing although that could just have been because of Jeanie’s infectious Goldie enthusiasm.
What we want to do with Goldie is show examples of a variety of ways in which we can balance that niggling anxiety around ageing with love, humour, disruption and style. It is a learning curve for us – we haven’t produced a print magazine before – I don’t believe anyone out there is trying to create a magazine along the lines we are doing. We don’t think you will all agree with everything we say, or like all of our content; we do hope that you are adult enough to appreciate the effort we make and keep your comments kind. Which brings me back to my first point; do we need an online etiquette guide for the over 40’s, or can we trust that, as we age, we are more understanding of the consequences of our actions on others around us?