Forum Connections

As I have finally gotten into the groove of the senior websites, I find that there is only so much I can participate without members asking me more personal information. While I had some failures in chat rooms, I found more of an interest in the forums and what they provide for the senior citizens. In the beginning of the practicum, I was frustrated because nobody would acknowledge me if I said I was 21. As I felt it was unethical to lie about my age, I struggled to find ways to participate rather than just observe. When I came across the variety of forums including Boomer Women, Yahoo! Senior Forum, and Senior Citizen Website, I found that there is more of a sense of loyalty between the members.

Ranging from subjects on Mental Illness, Empty Nesting, Divorce, Death, the forum allows members and anonymous strangers to post their feelings and receive a great variety of feedback. I have participated in many sites as both a member, and anonymous, and have found that you receive more feedback if you are a member, which gives you an “authentic” identity. I put authentic in quotations because the Internet rarely guarantee someones true identity, as I never divulged my true information. However, senior citizens are willing to give their advice and experience through people they feel truly connected to.At times I felt bad, because I didn’t want to think I was taking advantage of these people. I felt I was imposing because I was recording information for research, and people on these websites share deep emotions within themselves. Still, I tried to be as respectful as possible and share any information I could without giving up my age.

I think it is interesting that as the project is coming to a close, I will disappear from these websites as if these conversations never existed. It must happen frequently, as there is a great emphasis on the members who have been there the longest, and have posted the most. Naturally, however, people come and go from these websites through time. I could see myself maybe at some point in my life participating in an online community, if I were ever to feel that I had no one else to talk to. While I hope that doesn’t happen, it is comforting to know that there is a forum out there where people will help, even if they don’t know your name.

Sponsored by Apple?

When given the task to keep track of every computerized thing I use in an evening, it was really interesting/funny to find that I am an Apple product junkie. First, the computerized item I use the most is my iPhone. As I was a Blackberry person for some time, I have really come to appreciate the iPhone and all the different features on it, so I utilize it whenever possible. On a given night, I use it to communicate with friends and family and play a game or two in bed before I go to sleep. Last night, I used it to call my mom, play words with friends, and text my friends about our dinner plans. The next computerized device I use on a given night is my Macbook. I use my computer for both school work and surfing the web (twitter/facebook/shopping). I often find myself using both my iPhone and my computer at the same time, since I use them each for different tasks. Last night, I used my computer to finish up some assignments that were due today, and also shop online for a dress I need for an upcoming event. I also used my iPad last night. Since I was trying a new recipe, I pulled up the website to the recipe onto my iPad rather than my computer. Everyone always says that the iPad is just useful for travel, but I definitely use it around the house when I want to play games or do other things that I don’t need my computer for. I used my iPad for both the recipe and to play music while I was cooking. It is actually funny to think about the Apple products I use. I think technology and computerized programming has become so apparent in our every day lives that we feel the need to be constantly attached or connected to any of these devices at all time. I feel that I am often incomplete if I don’t have a computerized device near me, and that is a really sad reality. Now that I think of it, with all the Apple products I use, I should get an iDiscount on my next purchase! Haha!

“Flame Wars” now on Wiki!

Hey Everyone –

Since I have learned all sorts of lingo from my experiences on senior citizen chat rooms and forums, I decided it was time to add my input on the Wikipedia site! I went to the subject: chat rooms and realized that in the rules section the term “flame wars” wasn’t there.

This is a term that is used on multiple web sites “chat rules” sections and is used to describe when a person says hurtful things to someone with no other reason but to hurt their feelings. I think this is an important term to know because many people will break this rule when they participate in a website. I think flame wars are a type of bullying and it makes me feel better to know that it is being regulated on all of these sites. I think chat-rooms should be a place where people feel comfortable to be themselves and not get their feelings hurt for no reason.

I’ve never actually attempted to edit a Wikipedia page, and I was surprised to find how easy it was! All I did was copy and paste the definition from the senior-chatters page I used, and cited the source with a link back to the rules page where I found the information. It is really crazy to think that my addition will be in Wikipedia (unless someone takes it down!). I use Wikipedia all the time for information and now I have actually contributed to it! Such a great feeling 🙂


Fuzzy vs. Clear

When examining content on both YouTube and Hulu, I realized the difference. Most of the reasons I use both of these websites is for catching up on television that I miss. I decided to look at clips from ABC’s Dancing With the Stars on both of the websites. On YouTube, I found a bunch of clips from the show that seemed to be videotaping a television screen. The images appear shaky and unclear, making it noticeably obvious that this content was posted by just a random user. After, I searched for the same clip on Hulu and found that the quality was consistently clear. It seems that Hulu tends to get more licensing from particular shows and channels, and can feature content that is exact to what is seen on TV. I think that since anyone can post on YouTube, there tends to be a lot more amateur content than seen on Hulu. I tend to prefer Hulu because I know that I will get a clear and accurate video clip, rather than waste minutes on YouTube searching for a legitimate clip.


I think I experience content online in a pretty normal way. Most of the time when I am entering a website, I will just click “agree” to the terms and service without actually looking at what I am agreeing to. I often just assume that I wont be breaking any rules, such as stealing content, so I will just accept without knowing my fate. However, I understand why the regulations are there. I think many people, especially with sites like youtube, will create video clips or post videos that are taken from other websites. I understand how this is breaking regulations because it is taking someone else’s content. I do believe though that the web creators are aware of this, as many videos on youtube have messages that say they had to be taken down because of copyright infringement.

The only time I am every using other people’s content is for school purposes. If I am making a slideshow or showing the class a video, I will always site the source. I would never take information or content from a website without acknowledging that it isn’t my direct creation. I think it is important for websites to have these rules and regulations because it gives protections to the creator. The Internet is a tricky thing because anyone can just take something and claim it as their own to a selected audience. It is like going into a store and claiming that a CD is yours, and walking out without paying for it, however, it is a lot more easy to get away stealing with on the Internet.  It is important to control these situations because people are stealing ownership over content that just isn’t theirs.

Lets Get Personal

After I explained in my presentation that I felt more comfortable on the forums, I tried to open up as much as possible to my “fellow” senior citizens. I continued on Boomer Women Speak website to try and open up and see what feedback I could get. I have sent a variety of personal messages to different members but I wanted to see what other feedback I could get when I post in a public forum. I was unsure how often people check the forum and if there is more popularity on certain topics rather than others. There were two things that I decided to do to try and get some research:

First, I created an anonymous post. I was curious to see if people would respond more to someone that is a member or someone that is just on the website looking for advice. I commented under the personal section and asked the group how they feel about growing old and to NOT to my surprise, no one answered. This proves my theory that senior citizens strive to build connections and are definitely hesitant to open up to strangers or anonymous contributors.

So I went back onto my alias as “lyssbe” and posted in the recipe section to see how I could interact with people. I posted a recipie of mine for Swedish metballs. Here is what I wrote:

Hello Everyone!
Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away! I have a delicious recipe for sweet and sour meatballs that can be a fabulous addition to your Thanksgiving meal!

Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

2 LBS of Ground Beef/Turkey
1 cup of Italian Breadcrumbs
1 Jar of Chili Sauce
1 Jar of Grape Jelly (can be sugar free)
*try to find Chili and Jelly jars that are comparable in size
1 egg
1 teaspoon of baking powder

Place the ground meat into a bowl with one cup of breadcrumbs and an egg. Mix thoroughly. Season mix with a few pinches of salt and pepper. Heat up a skillet on the stove to medium heat. Mold the meat mix into tiny size meatballs and cook them on the pan. You will probably have to do this in shifts since all of the meat won’t fit at once. As each meatball finishes cooking, place them onto a plate lined with paper towel, to remove the grease.

*NOTE: the meatballs only have to cook until they are browned on the outside. you don’t want to overcook them or they will lose the juicy flavor!

Meanwhile, pour the whole jar of jelly and whole jar of chilli sauce into a dutch oven. Then, fill both empty jars up with water and pour them into the mix as well. Turn the stove on high heat. Once the sauce starts to boil, add one teaspoon of baking powder, which will thicken the sauce. After that, turn the heat onto low, so the sauce it at a simmer. Place the cooked meatballs into the dutch oven with the sauce. Put the lid on the dutch oven and let the meatballs soak into the simmering sauce for about 30-40 minutes.

After that, serve and enjoy! One of my favorite recipes hope you enjoy it:)

I checked back a few hours later and Anne – the Boomer in Chief – responded back. From my observations, it seems that Anne responds to everyone’s post, and she was the only one who responded to my Alzheimer’s post a week ago. But, I was still happy that someone answered. Here is what she wrote:

I felt really happy after I read that. I felt like although she isn’t aware of my identity, we formed a connection when I was able to bring back an important family tradition of hers. I think this was definitely a defining moment in that I kind of stepped back from the research aspect of this practicum project and actually felt a real connection with someone. Here is what I wrote back:

Well Anne, I don’t have much Swedish recipes in my personal cookbook – this happens to be my only one but it has been passed down for years in my family so I am glad to hear you can bring this tradition back to yours. Please let me know how the meatballs come out – hope they are delicious!

I hope she enjoys the meatballs – its really crazy to think that Anne is going to be using MY recipe at her family Thanksgiving. I feel like this has been a successful forum experience.

Go Ahead and Google Me!

When I went to Google myself, I was surprised to find there was nothing interesting that I could find about myself (can’t figure out if that is a good or bad thing). The only thing I could find when I Googled my name was a page that linked back to my LinkedIn page – No Fun! I actually do remember though a few years ago I did Google myself when I heard that potential jobs could search for me. I saw that there were pictures from high school my friend had posted on Snapfish or one of those picture sites, and I made sure to have her take those down. It is kind of scary that there can be some bad things out there (pictures, stories, etc) that anyone can access. My dad always told me that the internet is “ink” and could never be erased. I feel comfortable that there is nothing out there on the internet that could be incriminating in my job search…so far.

Practicum Tomorrow!

Hey Everyone!

Tomorrow is my practicum presentation, and I am really excited to share my research with the rest of the class. As you all will see in my presentation tomorrow, I had just as many failures as successes in trying to gain the trust of the participants as researchers. The senior citizens weren’t keen on the idea of being part of an experiment, so I had difficulty building personal relationships with most of them. Here is my question for you all: If you were participating in an online community that was age specific, would you feel violated if a researcher (who isn’t part of your age group) were to enter your world and ask you questions as part of a school project? I want you to put yourselves in the place of the senior citizens to see if their emotions are justified. Looking forward to tomorrow!


Bye for now!

Chat Room vs. Discussion Forums

As I continue to search for chat rooms where I am able to be actively involved with the senior citizens, I find that the more chats I venture into, the more inappropriate seniors I find. PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: An increase of age can bring on an increase in inappropriateness. I was shocked to read some of the comments that come out of these seniors mouths! Although a lot of the websites write up a list of rules, it doesn’t stop some of these adults from saying some vulgar stuff.

The last chatroom I participated in was on This website was interesting because you could participate in a big chat with anyone who is online, but also have a personal audio-video chat. I found that when I was on this site almost every member sent out a request to have a personal audio/video chat with me. I wasn’t comfortable saying yes, but I have included a shot of what it looks like when someone sends a request.

Since my experience with chat rooms hasn’t been at all positive, I decided recently to venture into discussion forums and see what I could find there.  I think there is a large difference in discussion forums than chat rooms, and seniors get different outcomes from each of these choices. I joined a website called, Boomer Women Speak, and have observed  a variety of forum topics from “Widows” to “health problems”and tried to get a good understanding of how senior citizens use these communities in their lives. Seeing the different discussions allows me to see how personal people become on the internet. These women have used this website to get through traumatic life situations and also to just talk about their feelings. It is really special to go to a place where they can talk to women who are experiencing the same types of situations they are going through.

I wanted to personally be involved so I decided to post a message on the welcome site to see if anyone had anything to say to me (I included a screen shot below) and the “boomer in chief” responded back. I also personally messaged one of the “top posters” named “chatty lady.”  I am waiting for her response back but I will be sure to keep you updated. I am liking this forum environment better, but haven’t given up with chats just yet!

A new strategy…

So after I was booted out of a bunch of senior citizen chat rooms, I took the time to come up with some new strategies on how I am going to approach this project. While I want to be honest in my intention as a researcher, I also want to dig deep and find out the different reasons why senior citizens engage in chat rooms and what they get out of it. I have continued to participate in various sites, but have been caught when I have to say my age. I think that my best approach so far was to be in a chat room a few times and observe rather than participate. By doing this, I was be able to gauge the various uses of these websites without interjecting and getting questioned by the other senior citizens.

So with this new strategy, I participated in a few chats where I sat out. This process wasn’t as entertaining as participating, but I feel like its necessary for me to get more of a foundation to these chats before I really dive in there. What I have found most interesting is that a lot of these chatters have met each other outside of the chat. They partake in what is called “chat-ups” where they will find places to meet and go out for drinks with each other. I find this very interesting because I feel that there are a lot of scary people out on the internet. As I have now vowed to be honest about my age and who I am, many people aren’t the same. These senior citizens seem to be pretty comfortable because they have met numerous times and continue to talk in these chats rather than communicate separately by email.

What I also found interesting is that the same people participate in the same chats. I thought that seniors would travel around to different chats and get to know different people since the virtual world is so big. From what I have gathered so far, it seems that there are “cliques’ within different chat rooms and people like to talk to the people they are comfortable with. This is hard for a new comer, like me, who wants to get in there and talk to people because they seem hesitant to reveal information about themselves to strangers. Which is ironic because they are all strangers to begin with.

Anyway, I think that a few times sitting out in these chat rooms was great, now my next step is that I am going to try and participate without them asking me how old I am. Hopefully that works or I will have to become a silent chatter again..which is no fun. That’s all for now!