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Using social media to stay in touch

A video of a Woy Woy man taking out his rubbish in fancy dress and trivia quizzes by video conference are two ways Peninsula residents have used social media to stay in touch with others.

Woy Woy man Mr John Orme said: "While the home isolation can be boring, a worldwide craze is sweeping social media.

"I thought it would be a bit of fun over Easter to get dressed up," he said.

With hand painted shoes, autographed South Sydney jersey and "Glory Glory" blasting from the car radio, he wheeled his bins out for kerbside collection outside his Ross St home.

"I didn't realise it would be watched on Facebook by thousands around the world and the video was placed on South Sydney football club's facebook site and got hundreds of comments," he said.

For Aidan Cuddington and his wife, Margie, of Umina Beach, their online interaction came with trivia hook-ups with friends.

"In these testing times of isolation, and reliance on electronic methods of communication, one of the challenges faced by those of us in the First World is finding topics with which to open and sustain conversations on line via Skype, Zoom or other systems," Mr Cuddington said.

"There are the all-too obvious ones of 'How are you coping?', 'How are the family?' and the ubiquitous 'Did you get any loo paper this week?' but then we find ourselves searching for something interesting to ask or say.

"As we rely on the various electronic means of talking, whether or not we can see each other, we seem to become ever-more conscious of the pregnant pauses or slightly uncomfortable silences.

"Baby Boomers grew up valuing the time spent talking on the phone, especially long distance, because calls were metered and considered expensive.

"We have generally embraced the advances in technology which have relieved us of the burden of writing long-winded newsy letters to tell others how our lives are progressing, and are content with short, sometimes pithy, messages via social media, so when we are talking face-to-face we need to find topics beyond those already covered to make the conversation interesting and engaging.

"It is difficult to discuss subjects such as music clips, funny videos etc because we've all seen them on the posts we've shared.

"There is no sport to talk about, unless you're interested in racing or the political machinations and manoeuvring going on within the football codes as they desperately try to shore up their shaky empires, and we're all up to date with political news worldwide."

Mr Cuddington has come up with some suggestions to make online communication.

"Avoid posting some news on social media until after you've shared it verbally," he said.

"Wear something different and invite comment but be prepared for disparaging and possibly unkind words.

"Before your call, set all the participants up to present a few trivia questions for the others to answer; even just one or two can get the party started.

"Our group of regular trivia friends hold a weekly Zoom session where each participant asks seven questions: easy to prepare and fun.

"You can get as competitive as you please.

"Try and set up a background that invites comment from your viewers.

"If you are talking regularly, try changing your position within your home for each call.

"Parents with young children could include a recent piece of child's artwork. You could include your own creations.

"If you can, put a bit of music on in the background, just loud enough for others to hear but not so loud that it's intrusive.

"Ask others if they want to play something while you're chatting. You can arrange who plays what in advance if you like.

"Finally, remember the basic principles of conversation and don't fall into the trap of talking for the sake of talking. There is such a thing as a comfortable silence.

"The joys of technology mean that there is no excuse for not picking up the phone and asking someone if they're OK, and showing you care without clicking on an emoji."

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