Discover more from Midlife Anti-Hero
What's your threadcount? Threads is here and EVERYONE is on it.
Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? An update on the value of social media after retirement Like it or not, the apps have upsides.
I’m on the couch, in the corner where the cushion is losing its spring. The dog has gone to bed. A message on the TV asks, “Are you still there?”
I don’t know. Am I?
What is this place between my brain and my cramping thumb hovering over my phone? It’s media, but it doesn’t feel social.
Merriam-Webster defines social as an adjective “involving allies” marked by “pleasant companionship.” Its origins are from the Latin socialis, for “living with others.”
We can safely assume Elon Musk didn’t study this etymology when taking over Twitter. But what of it? Despite the shit-stirring, outrage, privacy concerns, trolls, and bots on every social media platform, nearly 5 billion people worldwide use it—240 million are active daily on Twitter alone. Meta’s Threads rocketed to 100 million sign-ups in five days.
But, oh God, not another one!
Social media is awful for teenagers, women, the LGBTQ community, people of color, and other marginalized groups. A Pew Research study found 4 out of 10 Americans have experienced online harassment.
Will Threads be any different? Probably not. If we’ve learned anything about the internet (other than that it’s a series of tubes), we are painfully aware it’s untameable. Kick me off one platform; I’ll join another, start my own, or buy one.
And it’s not just cyberbullying that makes us feel bad. Filtered photos, curated highlights, and even good news announcements from friends and colleagues can take a toll. Is there anything worse than that “everyone but me” feeling after just a few minutes on Facebook?
And yet we’re still there. Why? Because it has some good qualities too.
Social media and midlife reinvention
I may not miss my job, but I miss the casual interaction with work friends. I miss opportunities for learning and connection that are baked into working with others.
Like it or not, the internet—social media, text, email, and (ugh) Zoom—is how we connect now. Some studies have linked social technology use by older adults to improvements in health and well-being. And, if technology helps us build mutually beneficial connections, I’m here for it.
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My midlife reinspiration social media stack:
Facebook groups Whatever you’re interested in, wherever you are in life, there is a group for you. Look for a private group with clear engagement rules and active administrators. In my experience, group members are supportive and pleasant companions—the true definition of social.
Twitter lists One of the myths, I think, of Twitter is that everyone sees the same posts—from the mundane to the hateful. You can curate your feed. Follow who you are interested in and who you trust. Make lists—mine are literary magazines, editors, and authors—that filter out a lot of noise. Use block and mute features. Restrict comments to the people you choose.
Instagram Creators Like Facebook, Instagram is owned by Meta—which isn’t helpful. What once was my favorite place to find content is now in third place. So. Many. Ads. BUT… if you are reinventing your career, building a brand, or looking for an audience, Instagram has many features to support your goals.
Threads I predict this text-based conversation app, where you can include links and images, and GIFs to your heart’s content, will eat Meta’s own lunch while simultaneously gnawing on the bones of the bluebird. However, it’s early days, and once Zuck’s team gets the bugs worked out, the urge to monetize will squeeze all the fun out of it.
LinkedIn Whether or not you are currently looking for work, maintaining your professional connections may come in handy someday. In addition, the platform hosts many creatives and thought leaders that provide inspiring content for your next chapter. LinkedIn also has Creator Tools that might be worth exploring if you embark on a new endeavor.
I joined Facebook in 2010 because I thought I would be left behind – alone at the lunch table – if I didn’t get on the bandwagon. I was mostly right—some 68% of Boomers are on Facebook today.
But watching endless short videos of cute dogs, clips from Taylor Swift’s Eras tour, and Graham Norton’s celebrity interviews isn’t social—it’s a distraction. As any marketer knows, views and “likes” are meaningless unless they lead to engagement.
Social media has a place in my reinvention toolkit, but nothing beats the thread that truly connects us all—being human. And for that, I need to get off the couch.