1. Know where to post on Facebook.
When you want to comment on someone's photo, write under that photo. When you want to comment on someone’s status, write under that status. For anything else, write on their timeline (see key opposite). Messing this up is the fastest way to reveal virtual incompetence.
2. Use common abbreviations…
Acronyms are a great way to save time on posts, texts, tweets, etc. Just make sure you actually know what they mean. For example, LOL means “laugh out loud” — not “lots of love.” You won’t make any friends with messages like, “I heard your dog died. LOL.”
3. … but don’t invent your own.
My mother once sent me this text: “Dnr? F chkn m pot” (Translation: Will you be dining at home? I’ll be serving fried chicken and mashed potatoes.) This left me confused and, by the time she spelled it all out, starving. Moral of the story, use vowels.
4. Keep in touch with your kids through texting…
If your daughter is at her first SEC football game, and you’re a bit worried (as you should be), do not call her. She will not answer. Shoot her a text message, and you’re more likely to get a response – and maybe even a quick celeb pic of Katherine Webb looking mildly concerned.
5. …but NOT through Facebook.
Facebook is for finding and catching up with old friends. Facebook is for posting unrealistically attractive photos of yourself. Facebook is not for reminding your grandson to pick up toilet paper from Winn-Dixie.
6. Prepare yourself for some negativity.
Did you like too many status updates? Defriended. Did you post way too many food porn pics on Instagram? Unfollowed. Social media brings with it new forms of social rejection. Grow a thick skin, and don’t let yourself feel cyber-bullied.
7. Follow some of your interests.
If you’re crafty or unemployed, sign up for Pinterest. Photography fans, follow “cityofmobile” on Tumblr. Live music lovers should download the free “Mobile AL” smartphone app. If you appreciate celebrity gossip, get on Twitter (but pretend that it’s for current events). Following your favorite local magazine is a great place to start (#shamelessplug): on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and on Instagram by searching “mobilebaymagazine.”
8. Don’t utilize every single social media outlet.
There are tons of networking sites out there. Use them all, and you’ll become addicted. If this happens, drive to Tacky Jack’s, sit outside and drink a bushwhacker. Remember how simple life used to be. Consider throwing phone into the water. Decide against it. Repeat weekly.
9. Ask a youngster for help once in a while.
When in doubt, ask a tech-savvy relative for guidance. It’s a good way to learn the ropes – and to spend quality time together. (This is especially important since all future communication will take place electronically.)
10. Never try too hard to be hip with technology.
And finally, if you just can’t seem to master the aforementioned instructions, don’t fret too much. Baby boomers, while you may not be able to retweet appropriately, I bet some of you saw Led Zeppelin play in Mobile in 1973. It doesn’t get much cooler than that!
KEY TECHIE TERMS
Timeline: Your main page on Facebook. It allows you to see their activity from any past point in time — perfect for stalking those folks you love to hate.
Status: The place on your own timeline where you can write about anything you’d like: your mood, your day, your football team. Avoid over-sharing and writing more than a few sentences.
Twitter: A social networking site just for Facebook-esque statuses. I don’t know why we need both — we just do.
Food porn: A phenomenon in which people take photos of food so delicious-looking that it feels wrong. These pictures are then posted online to make others hungry and resentful.
Tumblr: A magical, warm pocket of the blogosphere where just about anyone can find their niche. Are you a writer of “Lord of the Rings” fan fiction? Do you spend hours looking at pictures of sleeping kittens? Then there’s a Tumblr subculture for you. Welcome home.
Instagram: An app that lets you transform ordinary photos with vintage-style toning filters and special effects. You may think “Wow! I am really great at photography!” Chances are, you aren’t. Don’t quit your day job – unless you’re retired.
Pinterest: A fun photo-sharing website where you “pin” certain photos from other sundry sites to themed “boards.” Common collec-tions include wedding favors, children’s crafts, vacation home decor and other things that make boyfriends extremely nervous.
Facebook: I’m sorry, but if you are this far gone, I don’t think I can help you. Also, I’m not sure that anyone could even define Facebook at this point. It’s its own animal now.
text by Haley Potts • illustration by Kelan Mercer