Friday, August 21, 2009

Social Media: Fountain of Youth?

Even as a true believer in the power of social media in healthcare, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a headline on a Web site that said, "Social Media May Increase Life Span."

Okay, I've heard that fiber may help increase your life span. And exercise. And a healthy, low fat diet. Even sex.

But social media? Come on, now. I mean, really.

Yet that's just what the story said.

According to a study from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden; social media, email and sites like Google can help seniors to maintain their mental acuity.

The study says social isolation is one of the main causes of physical deterioration and major risk factor for dementia. And social media provides the old folks with an outlet to exercise their brains, connect to old friends and make new ones.

Of course, while they're reanimating their brain cells online, it wouldn't hurt for them to also take plenty of that fiber, exercise liberally and adhere to the aforementioned healthy, low fat diet.

Facebook's fastest-growing segment is people over 55. In fact, this group has grown more than 500 percent over the past six months and will eventually surpass high school students.

So perhaps it's no coincidence that my own father recently surprised me with an invitation to be his Facebook friend.

Here's to his health.

– Mark

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Reinvent Health Care? ReInvent How You Talk About It

While it remains to be seen if the Obama administration can really change health insurance, it certainly is changing the way the White House presents policies to the public. Hillary believed it takes a village. Barack believes it takes a brilliantly orchestrated social media program. And he's putting one out now, the likes of which has never been seen before.

Well, since the election, anyway.

To combat the bombastic rhetoric of the opposition, with its dire warnings of death panels, rationing and impending socialism, the White House has hit the Worldwide Web hard. It launched a site, Health Insurance Reform Reality Check which features video testimonials by experts and advisers who directly addresses each accusation. And it sent links to the site to a few hundred thousand fans on Facebook and Tweeted it to a couple of million more.

The site itself is nicely designed; very clean and simple. Unfortunately, the over 700 page bill it supports is not.

Which is why the President needs all of the advocates he can muster.


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Friday, August 7, 2009

No Tweets for the Tweety

It's the day after The Great Twitter Outage and reports are coming in from all over that many of the world's 45 million 140-character-blogging characters didn't take the experience very well.

Some were so addled that ran an article with the headline, "Twitter blackout left users feeling 'jittery,'naked.'"

An article on was titled, "Twitter Outage Spotlights 'Addiction to Social Media Crack.'" In it, Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics and a blog of the same name, says, "Yesterday showed that people are the social media crack. You shut this thing down and it shows you, by the way people reacted, that there's been a fundamental shift in the way people communicate. People have carved out time in their day, their hours, for this."

On my own little tour of the Tweetersphere, to see how everyone is fairing today, I didn't see too much anxiety or post-traumatic stress. (Maybe that won't show itself for years or decades.) Mostly, I just found anger at the alleged hacker who caused the whole ordeal. Many were annoyed that they had to reinstall TinyTwitter on their BlackBerrys.

Oh, the humanity.

Fortunately, there are also those who saw the humor in the event. "Twitter API Outage Caused Massive Boost in Kit Kat Sales," joked one developer.

I guess there's a valuable lesson to be learned here:

Those who Twitter may also have to Twiddle (their thumbs).


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