Changes happening fast
Without doubt the pace of change has been dizzyingly fast in the last decade or more -- particularly when it comes to technology. And I think this is one of the main reasons why many seniors are reticent about getting into social media. They think that they'll be overwhelmed by the complexity of it; that it's only something that geeks -- and young ones at that -- can master and enjoy.
There's also the pace of the medium. You do slow down the older you get. Being almost fifty years old myself I know this from personal experience.
But these are minor disadvantages. I think that mature folk should just ignore them. There are so many reasons to get involved in social networking. You can expand your social circle, learn heaps, have a lot of fun -- even make some money.
Older and wiser
And being older puts you in a really good position. That's because when you've been around a while, you have wisdom and maturity. You've learned what people are like. And you've accumulated this knowledge through years of observing your own behavior as well as that of others.
If you're older you're going to think before posting things that are defamatory, or embarrassing to yourself. And as we know from the numerous tales of epic social media fails that crowd the media, young people make these kinds of errors all the time.
A gentler pace
And being older, you're usually happy to take things slowly. You're not likely to jeopardize the relationships you are building (be they social or otherwise) by asking too much, too soon.
I find that this is one of the big pitfalls in connecting with others online. So often, people alienate others by moving too fast. On Twitter, for example, time and again I've followed people and had a bit of interaction. Almost immediately this has occurred they start offering services I didn't ask for. This annoys me because I'm not on the site primarily to buy stuff. I, like many others, want to connect with like-minded people, socialize and learn.
Of course not all these eager beavers are whippersnappers, but a lot of them are. Older people tend not to be so full on. If you're mellow like that and just keep chipping away in a friendly and helpful manner, you'll keep those relationships going. So, if you do have something to sell, odds are you'll make more sales in the long run because people will end up trusting and respecting you.
Calmer in the storm
Another way that maturity is beneficial: You tend to know when to turn the other cheek. This is useful on all social networking platforms, but is particularly valuable during political discussions on Twitter.
Needless to say, this particular realm of the site can be an absolute bloodbath! People are not only fired up emotionally about various issues; they are emboldened by the anonymity the medium affords. They can become extremely nasty very quickly. And if you're not careful you can easily end up in vicious and ongoing flame wars that can become very ugly -- sometimes spilling out into the offline world, and even resulting in legal stoushes.
Again, such conflicts are not the sole preserve of the young and impetuous. But members of this demographic do seem to dominate in this regard. That's simply because mature aged people tend to have greater command of their emotions. They can keep calm in a storm of derision and either ignore those provoking them, or manage to respond calmly, thereby disarming their online adversaries.