These 60-year-olds on Instagram, Snapchat are never too old for likes

Updated: Jan 21, 2018, 15:14 IST | Anju Maskeri

Why should millenials have all the fun? Meet the 60-year-olds who love Instagramming and Snapchatting as much as you

61 years Mansoor Showghi Yezdi Uses Instagram to post slice of life nuggets
61 years Mansoor Showghi Yezdi Uses Instagram to post slice of life nuggets

Dr Mansoor Showghi Yezdi, a 61-year-old café owner from Mahim, has been patronising a neighbourhood barber shop for over 20 years. But last month when he dropped by for a haircut, Yezdi decided to do something that he had mostly seen millennials do. He clicked a mirror selfie. After passing it through a filter on Instagram, he uploaded it with the caption: Jab sar jo tera chakraye. The picture fetched 25 likes and words of praise for both Yezdi and the barber. "I was impressed with the haircut, and a little vanity never hurt anybody," he laughs. Yezdi, who joined Instagram last year, has 375 followers and 890 posts. "The app just helps me feel young again," he says.

The late bloomers
Yezdi belongs to the growing number of senior citizens who are getting savvy on social media. According to PEW Research Centre, an American think tank based in Washington, DC, social media usage among senior citizens is on the rise. Today, 34 per cent of Americans aged 65 and up say they ever use social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. This represents a seven-point increase from 2013, when 27 per cent of older adults reported using social media. And what America does, India must follow.

52 years Meera Singh Uses Snapchat for the funny filters
52 years Meera Singh Uses Snapchat for the funny filters

Manveer Singh Malhi, national digital head of iGenero, a digital interaction agency headquartered in Hyderabad, feels Indians above the age of 55 are also slowly catching up. "Senior citizens are deepening their engagement with various forms of social media. It has a lot to do with the desire to keep in touch with family members who are living in other cities or countries." As per data collected by the agency, only four per cent Indians above the age of 56 used Facebook in 2013. That number grew to nine per cent in 2017 from a total of 201 million users. "Instagram which had a negligible following in that demographic five years ago, now has four per cent Indians," he says.

In a day, Yezdi uploads at least five posts on Facebook and Instagram. "I think it's a great way of expressing myself," he thinks While for most, the primary motive is to stay in touch with family, for others there are different benefits. Amod Sharma, former executive director of related business, Air India, says being on Facebook has enabled him to have conversations with people who he thought he'd never see again. "I'm back in touch with my school mates. Thanks to this, I never miss a single birthday," he says. The 62-year-old usually accesses the site from his smartphone that helps him keep busy during commutes. Although he's also on Twitter, he prefers Facebook because he has a choice of keeping the profile restricted. "I use Twitter for news," he says.

62 years Amod Sharma Uses Facebook to be in touch with friends
62 years Amod Sharma Uses Facebook to be in touch with friends

Malhi says patterns of usage among the elderly aren't too different from the young. "They prefer liking, commenting and chatting like any average youngster." Interestingly, even those who were initially averse to the idea of computers, are slowly embracing it out of curiosity. Sometimes a slight nudge from the children helps.

Niranjan Badakere, who worked for a newspaper, says he created a Facebook account because his son Chetan convinced him to. "But it took me a good five months to understand the basics," he says. Badakere, also a passionate cook, mostly uploads recipes. But his latest fad is organising quizzes. "I put up limericks and wordplay. But I stay away from political posts. My idea is to have fun," he says.

 70 years Niranjan Badakere Uses Facebook to upload recipes
70 years Niranjan Badakere Uses Facebook to upload recipes

The disappearing act
Many are looking beyond Facebook. Meera Singh, a 52-year-old from Lucknow, whose son Pratinav works in Mumbai, signed up on Snapchat recently. Known for its ephemerality, Snapchat posts disappear once you view them. "I'd see him making funny faces while taking selfies. He later told me that he was trying out different lenses like doggy ears and love eyes," she says. One evening, she asked him to teach her. Since then, the posts have been flowing. "I send him what I think is a normal picture, but he ends up amused, or sometimes scared, because the angle is all wrong," she laughs. But each time, there's a new update, Singh has a tough time figuring it out. "I guess it's the novelty factor that keeps youngsters hooked."

9 The percentage of senior citizens in India using Facebook in 2017

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