PADCA, a non-profit organisation who improves the quality of life of seniors, is a remarkable organization with whom we are proud to work. We are excited to raise awareness for the needs of seniors through the #GoBlue Campaign. Reducing loneliness is one of these needs. Our hope is this article will highlight one way of doing this.

Our world is experiencing a global trend of loneliness. A recent study indicates loneliness increases our odds of dying early by 45 percent. Brene Brown, a leading sociologist remarks, in her book Braving The Wilderness, “We experience loneliness when we feel disconnected… At the heart of loneliness is the absence of meaningful social interaction—an intimate relationship, friendships, family gatherings, or even community or work group connections.” 

Social media was born to help alleviate this loneliness and connect people globally. Often the news focuses on the downsides of these platforms and, as with many new inventions, there have been many teething problems but there have also been incredible benefits. Each platform is designed for its own purpose and here are a few of the needs they meet:

1: staying up to date on the happenings of friends and family around the globe.

Look at photos, watch videos and keep abreast of major life happenings by becoming friends with those people in your life who you’d like to be able to have round for a cup of coffee. In days past, letters and postcards filled this vital role keeping the threads of friendship woven together. Interact with one another by commenting on posts and sharing what is happening in your world. Facebook and Instagram are both great platforms to do this on.

2: connecting a new community through a commonality.

Do you have a hobby you love? Do you want to join a bible study group or a book club? Perhaps you are looking for a chronic illness support group? I have found all three on Facebook. Groups on Facebook allow people to gather and discuss topics privately and it can be great fun. The right ones, when you find them, build new friendships. Just a few months ago I had a friend to stay who I’d met through a Facebook group. 

3: being inspired.

Most leading figures in the world feature on social media sharing wisdom, tips, and insights that we can live out. From authors to actors, gardeners to car aficionados, they are all on social media! YouTube is a wonderful place to watch videos, from the latest news to how to make something. Following key people on your platform of choice will keep you abreast of the latest trends and happenings and give you plenty to share with your friends in conversation.

4: being “in the know” about current affairs.

Twitter is the new-age newspaper. Most people don’t tweet but follow key news outlets and people to know the news first. If you love knowing what is happening and keeping up with current affairs, this is the place for you. Each tweet is short but it’s usually linked to a more substantial article. 

Keen to connect but not sure where to start? 

In South Africa, Facebook is still our leading platform and covers all four of the points above. If you’re just starting out in social media, I’d recommend you start here: You can create a profile with just your email address or cell phone number. Ask a trusted friend or family member to help you get set up. Once you’ve begun, be sure to only “friend request” and “accept” friend requests from people you know. Explore by searching for pages to follow, start with your favourite brands (such as PADCA) and people. You can “like” their page and then, when they post, you will be able to see what they say. 

If you are looking to branch out: 

  • Twitter is a great news platform, sign up here:
  • YouTube is all about videos, peruse it here:
  • Instagram is for those who love visuals and is an app-driven platform (best used on your smartphone): find out more here

There are many more out there so feel free to explore! Remember, stay safe, by not sharing online what you wouldn’t share with a stranger. It really can be a whole lot of fun connecting globally!

The #GoBlue campaign, from 9 September to 13 October, needs YOUR help. It is designed to draw attention to the needs of seniors in the Pietermaritzburg and Midlands community. Sharing #GoBlue articles is one of the ways you can help. You can share it by forwarding this email, downloading more articles from the PADCA website or sharing them on social media from PADCA’s facebook page.