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No Age Barriers in Facebook

Social media opens doors, reconnects friends

He said social media can allow people to connect by sharing photos and daily interactions in a way "that previously was unattainable for many older populations."

Facebook isn't just for individuals; businesses and membership organizations such as AARP are jumping on the bandwagon, too.

Part of Facebook's appeal is that it can be an effective and inexpensive communication tool for big organizations as well as a way for a group of individuals to connect.

More than 35,000 people have clicked a button to "like" AARP's Facebook page. The "like" feature is a designation many organizations use rather than "friend."

People who want to "like" AARP North Carolina on Facebook or follow the organization's short messages and updates on Twitter — another social networking service — can sign up at its website, said Bob Garner, AARP North Carolina communications director.

Facebook was a coping mechanism for Lee Jones of Raleigh when a complication from spinal surgery in 2009 left her unable to speak for about eight months.

The illness gave her time — and Facebook gave her the capability — to build friendships with several young Marines she got to know after sending a random care package to Iraq seven years ago.

"When they are deployed, lonely and miserable, they look for me on chat," said Jones, 57, referring to a Facebook feature that allows friends to exchange messages in real time.

"When they return home, the loneliness and unhappiness does not always improve. I'm just a click away on those nights, too," she said.

You may also like: Boomers shape the future of technology. >>

Sue Price Johnson is a writer living in Raleigh, N.C.

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