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Terry Woster

WOSTER: Social media confounds old guy

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opinion Mitchell, 57301
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Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

In my latest installment of Old Guys Living with Social Media, I'll share a couple of lessons in how the world has changed for someone who once was a relatively skilled news reporter.

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Nancy and I traveled to Miller last Saturday to watch a track meet, then drove to Chamberlain to overnight and celebrate Mother's Day with Nancy's mom, our daughter-in-law and a couple of the granddaughters.

Such exciting news when we reached the house and collected the day's mail:

Frankie, a soon-to-be high-school graduate already looking ahead to life on campus at South Dakota State, received a card telling her of her dormitory assignment and her roommate. The card didn't give much information, but it did include a telephone number for the roommate.

Well, this is a person with whom our granddaughter will be spending a great deal of time in the coming year. Naturally, I was interested to know who this person was and from what town and school she hailed.

I was about to tell Frankie that we could take the phone number, do some Googling and find out at least what community had the prefix, when Frankie told me where her new roommate lived.

"How did you find that out?'' I asked, careful to hide the tiniest bit of disappointment in not being able to show the young woman a few old-reporter tricks.

"Facebook,'' she said.

"Ah, well, of course,'' I said, nodding in what I hoped was a wise and casual manner. "That was what I was going to suggest, if not Twitter or maybe Skype.''

Yeah, she did give me kind of a funny look, but she's a really neat kid. She didn't carry things beyond that.

That was my second odd run-in with Facebook in recent days. I'm on Facebook, you know. I'm not faithful, although I go there every week or so to see if anything is happening.

One day, a few weeks back, I posted a link to a music video. That was my fourth or fifth post in the last couple of years, I think.

I just figured, when a person runs across something as amazing as The Jerry Garcia Band playing "That Lucky Old Sun,'' it's worth sharing.

I didn't get many comments, but I got a nice one from my older son, and that was worth 100 from anyone else.

I went to Facebook the other day, and what do you think? I found a message from a college student asking if I'd care to write a column for the school paper.

I was extremely interested, until I saw that the deadline for submitting my copy had passed by the time I found the message.

I felt kind of bad, because I imagine the student thought I was ignoring the request -- which I guess, technically, I was, although it wasn't an intentional thing, it was an Old Guy Living with Social Media thing.

I saw the student's adviser not long after that, and I asked if she would apologize for me. I also said if the young person wanted to reach me, he'd be better off trying this new thing called e-mail.

I check that several times a day, I said.

For whatever reason, those experiences set me to thinking about my younger days when a telephone receiver was hooked to the wall by a curly cord, AM radio was the music source of choice and high school kids didn't really stay in contact with each other very much except between classes and in study hall.

I used to open my bedroom window on mild evenings, crawl out onto the slanted roof that covered the west porch and lie on my back, watching the stars and listening to ballads and really early rock and roll over KOMA radio from Oklahoma City.

Sometimes on fall nights, the odor of burning leaves would drift past on the night breeze.

Our street was quiet, and I could sometimes hear bits of conversation through the open window of the house next door, but very indistinct and certainly not a distraction when Paul Anka or Gene Pitney was singing a love song.

I don't know that it was a better time. It was different -- and I understood it.

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