October 28th, 2013 .

Social Media If Necessary

Pat Morden

You remember the famous phrase that Prime Minster Mackenzie King used to defuse the conscription crisis in World War II? In 1942 King said, “Conscription if necessary, but not necessarily conscription.” By 1944 he was able to argue that conscription was desperately needed. His nifty little phrase made that decision a little more palatable, especially with Quebeckers who loathed the idea of forced military service.

Recently I was talking to my son about the impact of social media on communication. A PhD student in political science, he said that he believed in “social media if necessary but not necessarily social media.”

Indeed. Social media provide new and often highly effective distribution channels for communication. If you’ve got something to say, it makes sense to say it through a variety of channels – especially low- and no-cost ones.

But of course, it all depends on what you want to say and especially who you want to say it to. There’s absolutely no question that social media are important when communicating with a young audience. But what about theTroglodyte generation?

Turns out, we’re not as slow off the mark as I thought we might be. According to a recent study:

  • 60% of people 50 to 64 use social networking, up from 6% in 2005
  • 43% of people over 65 use online social networking services, up from 1% in 2006
  • Overall, 72% of adults over 18 use social networking, up from 67% last year.

So is social media necessary? Not necessarily. But it’s time to let go of any assumptions about older adults. We’ve graduated from the quill pen.

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