‘Hook, Tug and Reel’: How to get an 84-year-old hooked on social media


Ok, so I’m not that old. But even I face challenges keeping up with the ever-evolving social media trends.

As someone who sported a pager in college and thought it was cool to customize it with flash studs and stickers, perhaps I’m not the best person to give expert advice on how to lure the older generation onto the social media ‘trendwagon’. However I can give tried and tested advice, ‘inspired by a true story’, from my own attempts to get my 84-year-old grandmother to join the stampede of ‘social media-lites’.

This ambitious plot came from a need to keep up with what’s going on halfway across the planet. I was desperate for my grandma to experience my daily misadventures in real time. It just didn’t seem right for one of my nearest and dearest to miss out when total strangers and casual acquaintances had access to my every selfie, rant and rave.

And so began my ‘mission impossible’. Even the rocket scientists who put man on the moon 45 years ago would have their minds blown by today’s social media explosion. Now add the fact that I was dealing with a girl who is 84 years young, who has barely touched a laptop, and who lives on the other side of the globe, and you’re just asking for trouble. But the fascinating thing is that after the dust had settled, she became just as hooked as any teenager!

Here’s the secret of my ‘Hook, Tug and Reel’ master plan…

The Hook

1. I started posting old photos on Facebook and Instagram. Many of them she had not realized I had access to, and they could only be seen on these platforms.

2. I then continued my ‘teaser’ phase by releasing tantalizing hints of juicy happenings in my status updates, knowing very well they would leak through nosy family members.

3. I shared purchased items that I knew would be irresistible to her, hinting that these were ‘online only’ treats.

Now that I had drilled through the surface and hit oil, it was time to intensify her interest and quickly seal the deal…

The Tug

1. I bought the most basic laptop known to humankind, with a foolproof user guide.

2. I recruited a family member to deliver and set up the system.

3. I then created accounts for two very basic social media apps (Skype and Facebook for now).

With all the hardware and software set up, there was now no excuse and no turning back.

The Reel

1. I now had to quickly flood her Facebook wall with interesting tidbits that I knew would become the highlight of her day.

2. I Skype-called her almost daily to kick-start the routine, so she could see with her own eyes how to cross the seven seas from the comfort of her home.

3. I made sure there was in-house tech support, back-up and ‘crisis management’ when things got too confusing and made her brain sore.

This bumpy road was not without its hilarious blunders and bloopers. For confidentiality reasons I won’t reveal how many Skype sessions continued long after she was supposed to hang up, or how many embarrassing private messages ended up on her wall for the world to see.

But after taking baby steps, Grandma is now surpassing my own abilities, and has even taught me a trick or two! Social media has truly given her a new lease of life and become the highlight of her day. The moral of her story is if she can do it, then everybody else can.

Nothing can ever shock me now. Well, unless if I get a notification that Grandma has changed her relationship status…