Understanding my Grandma’s Social Network

2 May

PICT3592Early morning, my grandmother picks the newspaper up at the yard where starts her first contact with the guy who distributes news. Then, she goes to the grocery store where continues spreading greetings to the security guard, manager, cashier, and some acquaintances. Also, when she takes the bus she has a particular ability to begin conversations with people besides her and even with the driver. This was my grandma, the most popular lady in her neighbourhood but also my model of encouragement and reflexion about the effect of social network and the reason why people need social network for living.

One of our class of #COMM506 of the MACT program, the instructor noted that social network is a particular movement of re-association and reassembling. In my perspective, social network is an action where people with similarity needs are associated to reach a goal. In the case of my grandma, she simply related to others for keeping in touch, expressing her feelings, receiving appreciation, maintaining active her brain and keeping memories. Even though all my grandma’s nodes are not related each other because people who she met have different activities and needs, she established meeting points and figured out points that they may relate each other. For example, she introduced the doctor to her neighbour who had a health problem, this person referred the doctor to someone else who in turn, recommended this doctor to others. It is interesting how dyads or pairs may be tiny small groups and how they may transform themselves in large groups of people.

From basic relationship between two people to social activities created through Facebook, the effect of social network may exceed our thinking and overcome our expectations achieving changes in the human being life even in the quiet and peace life of a senior lady.


26 Responses to “Understanding my Grandma’s Social Network”

  1. Hillary Burridge May 2, 2012 at 5:03 am #

    What a great way of looking at today’s discussion, Erika! I love how you brought the information from class into your real life. It paints a much clearer picture.

    Has your grandmother had a chance to see social media? I’d love to hear what she thought about Facebook or Twitter.

    • erikafernandezgomez May 2, 2012 at 5:52 am #

      Actually, I should write the blog in past-tense. Unfortunately, my grandma is under medical supervision in a nursing home because she has Alzheimer. But I am pretty sure if she would be mentally healthy she would manage Facebook and Twitter very well. I am fascinated how seniors and older adults are handling social media and how they feel closer to their families thanks this new tool.

      Thank you for your comment!

      • judithdyck May 5, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

        My mother in law is in a residence because she has Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, she is still mobile and healthy in an old and frail kind of way. She has always been a very funny and wonderful lady, but unfortunately, for the ten years before she moved into the residence, all her friends died and she became very lonely and really only saw her family members. Now that she is in the residence, she has resumed her flirty, fun ways. She is adored by her fellow residents and has a wide social circle once again, including a former opera singer follows her around and serenades her with her favorite songs in full basso voice. Thank you for helping me see her life in this way.

    • heathergrayblog May 4, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

      You painted a very real picture of a social network – thank you! I wonder if social media has allowed my generation to become strong helicopter parents – our children are always in contact even if they are half a world away. Is some of our use of social media perhaps the need to feel in control/be aware of all things at all times?

      • erikafernandezgomez May 6, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

        Heather and Judith,
        It’s sad that I couldn’t reply for one of each separately. Thank you for taking your time reading my blog and write nice comments on it.
        Judith, I really appreciate you have shared your mother in law story, she is amazing! Unfortunately, My grandma can’t make many friends in her residence because she doesn’t speak English. However, she tries to communicate with signs, singing songs (that she still remembers from her childhood) and sometimes she argues with them…of course they don’t understand anything.
        Heather, I agree with you. Social Media is made for us and with us. We need them to feel in control and be aware of things such as simple forms of connect to others.

        Thanks to both of you!

  2. jpletz May 2, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    I loved the poetic imagery in your blog. The slow movement of small town living juxtaposed against the overwhelming complexity that can be social media.

    • erikafernandezgomez May 2, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

      Hi Joan,
      Great comment! You’re totally right. They’re two different words and perspectives of the network in which small town living is a platform to explain and easier understanding of how work and spread the complex dimension of the social media.

  3. Yasmin Pacia May 2, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

    Love it!!!

  4. teresasturgess May 3, 2012 at 12:48 am #

    Erika what I like about the post is that it grounds us in what social networks — at their very roots — are all about — that basic human need to connect with each other. Sounds like your Grandma had some social networking “power”.

    • erikafernandezgomez May 3, 2012 at 5:30 am #

      I would say …yes! She had the power to connect with others and to create human web.

  5. Oscar Vera May 3, 2012 at 1:36 am #

    Me encanto mi amor, como siempre tu vena literaria alli tambien.

  6. Sylvia May 3, 2012 at 2:56 am #

    When reading your post, I thought about my grandfather as well – an 84 year old who connected to technology in the past five years because someone installed a translation program on an old desktop. Now, he reads Chinese media from his hometown, looks at photos, and sends email. It is incredible to me how much content he generates and absorbs by being enabled by the tools and technologies we have today. He’s not affecting large groups either, just dyads and triads – just enough to keep him engaged! (Speaking of such, he asked me to email him which I have not done!)

    • erikafernandezgomez May 3, 2012 at 5:35 am #

      Thank you for sharing the story of your lovely grandfather. It is remarkable when a senior is encouraged to communicate and connect with others in other code, the code of new technology. Congratulations to your grandfather!

  7. carolynfreed May 3, 2012 at 3:20 am #

    HI Erika,
    Your comments ring true even for tomorrow’s readings with the campfire theme- the networks we’ve created virtually aren’t so different from those created traditionally in your grandmother’s generation. The tool- catching a bus-is a player that has an equal role in the formation of our ties- just like our #COMM506 tweets are the tool that is weaving our story.

    • erikafernandezgomez May 3, 2012 at 5:37 am #

      It’s so interesting how we constantly compare traditional ways of communications with the new ones. Your example is perfect!

      Thank you!

  8. jose May 3, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    really good keka, you see and few years ago you told me, ” ay jose english its to difficult and i told you not, its a key to use your network” and now you writing about it. well done and congratulations.

  9. KateInAlberta May 3, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    Great post Erika! While you do not name them, you invoke many of the concepts we are learning to help us understand and analyze social networks: homophily, propinquity, egocentric networks, role/position, all of which feed into an ANT analysis, the beginning of which you offer. Nicely done!

    • erikafernandezgomez May 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

      Yes, I took some concepts used on the understanding social network book by Kadushin. I emphasized in the individual members of network chapter for explaining dyads relationship of my grandma. It was very useful and instructive.

      Thank you!

  10. yangamandazhang May 3, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    Hello Erika,

    I love your way to interprete the theory through the cozy example of your grandma.One great thing about he social media is that it speeds up dramtically the re-association of the social netwoks, and enables people to involve different social networks at the same time.

    • erikafernandezgomez May 6, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

      It is amazing, isn’t it? That we have all media, social media and still have the capacity to communicate face-to-face without any restrictions because we live in a freedom! Thank you very much for your thoughts.

  11. Andrea May 4, 2012 at 4:16 am #

    Erika I love the sincerity and the simplicity that rings through in this blog posting. Really social networks don’t have to be done via the Internet, while sitting in front of a computer all the time. You’ve so accurately captured the bygone days of how social networking was done. From time to time I find myself being that person in an elevator or on the bus that randomly talks to strangers. It keeps me grounded. What a wonderful post!

    • erikafernandezgomez May 6, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

      You are right! The key thing is not to lose the compass. Our north should be to connect to the world but with our feet on the earth. Thank you for your comment.

  12. marcbavin May 5, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

    Awesome, Erika! Part way through reading your blog it made me think about living in a small town and the value placed on having just the sort of interactions your grandma has. It occurred to me that these are “weak ties” and that this is hard to cultivate in an urban setting, which might explain why, in the city, we might seek those weak ties virtually due to the “lack of public space” that Rheingold spoke of. Really liked the visual process of your post!

    • Erika May 10, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

      It is funny reading your comment just when I am listening Leah and her presentation about “Girls Around me”. Obviously, my grandma didn’t have this technology for being located, however she lived in a small world where everybody knew each other and it was predictable to find her in any location. In this way, she had her “Girls Around me”.

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