Whenever I cycle past Oxford Brookes University I try to stop to see what the light is doing to some of its interesting shapes and colours. After a cold meander outside this morning I walked into one of the buildings and was surprised to see a notice about a workshop on ‘sharing photos online and reducing loneliness in older people’. A few weeks ago I completed a research questionnaire on the subject but I couldn’t get to the workshop they were inviting people to and I forgot about it. Perhaps this was another one? Starting when? Five minutes ago. Well, at the very least it gave me an excuse to be inside a heated building. I got there and was welcomed with coffee.

One of the researchers asked questions about how we’d started sharing photos, what doing so means to us and what connections we had made. I was the only blipper (predictably); others there use WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook. Or, in one stalwart case, resist the internet altogether and get photos printed out to show the family.

The researchers’ hypothesis seems to be that photo-sharing can reduce isolation therefore if lonely ‘older people’ (60+!) were shown how technology works they could share photos and become less isolated. If so, we weren’t the best group to research: lively, out-and-about, talkative and confident. Most of us have been taking photos for most of our lives and use the internet or other means of sharing with ease.
It seems to me that lonely people should be encouraged to share whatever interests they already have, rather than get taught something that doesn't interest them as a means of communicating with other people being taught something that doesn't interest them. Anyway, time and research will tell.
Another researcher (hi Shailey!) asked my blip name and had heard of me. Perhaps she knows of you too.

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