An 84 year-old on Facebook? Discovering the uncle of the social networks [INTERVIEW]
Facebook is a social network that has set its core target among the so-called “digital natives”, born and raised in a close contact with Internet. The possibility to communicate, to create social contacts in own network, to make new connections are the reasons why mainly the youngsters are intrigued to try this new way of communication.
Yet, there are many men and women, beyond the age of youth who are already in the period of full maturity but want to try this new medium and the web, in general. A survey conducted last year by the Italian association of psychogeriatrics showed that even one hour a day in Facebook “has a beneficial effect on memory, it keeps it active because stimulates and improves the mood of the white-haired web users” (source: The seniors are discovering Facebook).
The older people are no longer subject of fan pages with ironic titles, but they are discovering the new technologies and have already begun to use them as the young people do. An example is the famous case of Lillian Lowe from iGran, considered to be the oldest member of Facebook. Unfortunately she passed away recently, a few months before her 105 anniversary.
We have found a similar example of how all this is reality, even in Italy.
We interviewed Luciano, born in 1928. He has an insatiable curiosity about the computer, the Internet and the new digital technologies. If Lilian could be considered the grandmother of Facebook, there is no doubt that to Luciano with his 84 years can be given the title of uncle of Facebook.
Luciano, how did you approach the world of the Internet?
This started a few years ago when my daughter changed her computer. The old one was still working well and I asked her to give it to me. Thus, with the help of my son-in-law, I started learning how to use it. I’ve even set up an Internet connection.
What did you learn at the beginning?
I enrolled at a course for beginners, a 5/6 hours lesson. I was given a handbook with instructions how to use programs for writing texts and viewing photos, for example. So, every day I am spending time on the computer, learning. And if there was something that I didn’t know I was consulting the handbook. Then I created an email account, which I’m using now to write emails to my near and distant relatives and to my friends. I exchanged with them views, photos, and other things like that. Now, I am very used to email, indeed.
When did you discover Facebook?
My son-in-law told me about it a few months ago, and my grandchildren also talked often about it. I have set up an account on Facebook with the help of my son in-law. Then, I have personalized my profile. But I didn’t have a handbook about Facebook, so I started personalizing it by myself, without any help. I preferred to do this by myself because if I had asked my grandchildren for help, they would do everything in two minutes without explaining me what they were exactly doing: Zac! and ready. Instead, I wanted to know how the things were done. I chose a profile photo among those I had received before from my grandchild. I liked it, so I put it as my profile picture. (You may see this photo of Luciano here, on the right. E.d.)
We see that the URL of the profile is personalized. Have you made it by yourself, too?
Oh, yes I did it, but with the help of my grandchild. I didn’t like the numbers, so I asked him for help.
What are you using Facebook for?
Yet, I don’t know it very well. In fact, I don’t use it very much. I am much more familiar with the emails, even though in Facebook I may talk directly with everybody, as they say…
Oh, yes, you can write directly. I even talked once with a friend like that. But I have to become better at it, because till now I haven’t done it every day. But apart from this, I don’t do many things on Facebook. Sometimes, strange people ask me for my friendship, but I prefer to say “No”, because the requests are accompanied with “suspicious” photos, people… how to say… whimsical… they’ve arrived a lot.
How you may say that someone is not trustworthy?
From the photos, from what they are writing. Let’s say that I see who he is, but to those who I don’t know, I don’t even answer. I become a friend only with people I really know. (In fact Luciano has only 18 friends in the Facebook. E.d.)
And pictures of yourself, did you put some?
No, no. Only that I’ve used as a profile picture.
Have you become a fan on Facebook? Have you ever liked something?
No, I don’t even know what it is. I just like to chat with my friends and relatives.
How much time do you spend on Facebook?
Well, not much, an hour a day at most. I’m in pension and the internet connection is expensive. I don’t want to charge myself with such expenses. If I could, I would stay more, this is sure. I enjoy trying and learning. I will definitely spend more time on Facebook and on Internet. I intend to learn using it better and I’m now doing it step by step. You keep in mind everything you learn, because it might be useful later: and Facebook makes the communication easier, like emails.
Last question: if I say you Twitter, do you know what it is?
Yes, I’ve heard about it but I’ve never been there.
And do you intend to open an account?
No, no. In fact, for my needs it’s enough what I already have.
The interview ends like this. It seems interesting to note that in spite of the fact that Luciano has already over 80 years and that he didn’t grow in a society dominated by the new media, now he is very well integrated with them.
A final note: To preserve his privacy, Luciano asked us to not share the URL of his profile and to not post his photos in this article. Dear Luciano, of course we did it: but you have to know that for all the ninjas in the section “Social Media” you have become the Uncle of Facebook.