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102-year-old 'post' puts social media in new old light
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I have a love/hate relationship with social media but I found something that made me feel a little less guilty about sharing snippets of my life on the Internet. - photo by Amy Choate-Nielsen
I have mixed feelings about social media.

On one hand, I find it funny and entertaining, and its helped me keep in touch with friends from long ago and far away. Its easier than keeping a blog as an abbreviated record of my life, and in some cases, its helped me feel connected and cared about, inspired and informed.

But in other ways, its exposed insecurities I didnt even know I had, both in comparing my life to others lives and in seeing my own egotism on embarrassing display. Ive been repelled by others narcissism, aggravated at peoples ignorance and concerned by the overwhelming voyeurism we seem to embrace as an online populace.

Im conflicted.

I sometimes wonder if I am part of the devolution of humanity because I am part of Facebook. I sometimes wonder if my posting and reading posts is making the world a worse place, and I consider deleting my digital self but then a mashup of drowsy baby animals falling asleep and a conversation with 30 of my closest friends on where to buy the best shampoo pop into my feed, and somehow I forget what it was I was just thinking about. Unplugging something?

I was slow to join the world of social media. Im still lagging, honestly, and thats not something youre supposed to admit when youre part of the real not social media. Im on Twitter, but I hardly tweet. I only joined Instagram this year. I turned Facebook off on my phone so I can only see it when Im at home. And Ive never made a single Vine.

I feel guilty about this. Social media is supposed to be the way news outlets stay on the cutting edge into the future, and here I am with mixed feelings, having never posted a Vine. What am I thinking?

In fact, newspapers have always been on the cutting edge of the future. Social media isnt a new idea its just a new format.

Take the local section of the paper the obituaries and the wedding announcements, the personal ads and classifieds section. It is the original insight into another persons life, minus the selfie. We have always been interested in each other, it seems. Perhaps it is part of human nature.

My conflict over online exposure in a variety of Internet forums eased some one day when I was searching on the Internet for mention of some of my old relatives my grandmother Fleeta, who died before I was born, my grandfather Irvan, who was Fleetas husband, and my great-grandfather Charles Mehew.

To my delight, an article on Charles Mehew appeared in my search, like a meme of a tiny puppy sleeping in a coffee mug, and I forgot whatever it was I had been thinking about. Googling something?

There, in the Social Whirl section of the Enid Events newspaper, along with stories of who had whom at their house for dinner, who was sick and who just had a big trip, there was an entry about my great-aunts third birthday party, dated May 8, 1913.

Mrs. Charles Mehew entertained with a splendid childrens party Saturday afternoon for her little daughter, Charlotte, it being her third birthday anniversary, the story says. The distinguished little folk in attendance had a fine time hunting May baskets, which were filled with candies and flowers, they were allowed to keep as favors of the afternoon. Ice cream, fruits and candies were served the small guests at 5 oclock, the dining table being centered with the birthday cake and three candles. Guests bidden for the afternoon were Everett Purcell, Jack Wilcox, Walten McKenzie, Fannie and Gertrude Newsome and nine other children identified by name.

That sounds like a post to me albeit in more elegant language than we use today.

I loved reading this little tale, a blip on the screen of life more than 100 years ago. I imagine this gaggle of children ambling around, eating ice cream and candy, and I smile, knowing that long, long ago, my great-aunt had a good time at her third birthday party.

Maybe its those moments that have us finding new ways to capture and share our little stories with a big audience. Maybe its not the devolution of society, but the continuation of a curiosity and interest weve always had in each other a curiosity that, maybe someday, a hundred years from now, might let a grand-niece of mine catch a glimpse of that time I stood in the sand and watched the foam of the sea roll in toward my toes while I laughed with my friends.

She might feel conflicted or she might smile. And the cycle will go on.