There are many experts who say that social networks are one of the most important aspects of maintaining an active life in retirement. I will be very honest and admit that I underestimated that part of retirement. It’s very important to remain engaged with life and your friends. But, as we’ve come to realize with the health crisis we are experiencing in the country, social interaction does not have to be done in person. Of course, we understand that nothing replaces the physical contact but there are many ways to stay emotionally close to those you love and that is extremely important in retirement.
One of the fears many people have is to be retired and alone with no visitors. In his later years, my father had to be in an assisted living home because it was no longer safe to be by himself. I’m happy to say that I visited him almost every day during the last two years of his life and it was sad to see how many of his fellow residents got no visitors at all. For some of them, it didn’t matter at all because they formed new friendships with their fellow residents and participated in many of the activities that were scheduled. For others, they just sat on the porch and stared out at the traffic that passed by.
I became very sensitive to the fact that this was not how I wanted to end up and I’m convince no one has to become one of the lonely shut ins that you read about all too often. Technology has brought social networking to a new level and the way people can stay in touch is rather amazing. Some people fear that the social networks that exist on the internet have made everyone a “device” obsessed social being who no longer focuses enough on the beautiful things that surround them. I am one of the people who fears that there may be some truth to that. People need to enjoy the moment and put their devices down once in a while.
The best social networks are the ones that bring people together to enjoy one another’s company. I’ve seen too many people lose their own identity by becoming obsessed with knowing what their friends are doing all the time. There is a lot of positive things that come out of this interaction but everyone should take the time to see life with their own eyes rather than always through a camera and enjoy the people around them rather than tracking everyone’s movement through their latest posting.
Design your life so that you’re the inspiration for other people in their social networking. Why don’t you become the trendsetter and be the person everyone talks about? You can do this! The next time you read a post about someone enjoying a hike in the woods, go out and do it or anything else that gives you pleasure. Socialization is a wonderful thing, but it should be a by product of doing what you love rather than the objective of your existence.
Absolutely you should stay in touch with friends and family, but you should create a life where there is always something new to discuss or a topic you’ve learned about or a book you just read. Someone once told me that there is no such thing as a boring life – there are just boring people. I would just add that those boring people are only that way because they are not busy enjoying life. We live in an absolutely amazing world with so much to learn by those who came before us. There is indeed a place for social networks in the life of every retiree, but I urge you to find networks, real or virtual, that are focused on an interest you have. That’s the way you stay young. That’s the way you Enjoy Retired Life.