Knowing How To Communicate With Whom?

Knowing How To Communicate With Whom?

Recently, I came across a few articles about change and the speed of change and how we are reacting to these changes.

I had a few conversations with my mother as well about these changes and her ability and desire to continue to “keep up”. We had a really interesting conversation this morning, specifically about how people communicate.

A little bit of background knowledge. My mother was born during the beginning of World War II in Germany. She has now lived for almost 40 years in Argentina. Both of her children live with their families in other countries. Communicating beyond face to face conversations is not a nice add-on, something “nice to do” for our family, but a necessity. What struck me though in our Facetime conversation was the extend of different platforms she is fluently navigating and just like code switching when speaking one of her three languages, she keeps track of and changing platforms, depending on the person she is trying to communicate with. She knows how to participate in a group chat on Whatsapp to organize a Kaffeeklatsch with her girl friends (all around 75 years old/young) in Buenos Aires or to discuss the agenda of the home owner’s association in her building. She knows that in order to talk to her granddaughters she would have to wait weeks for a response (if at all), if she were to send an email instead of sending an iMessage or a PM on Facebook.

I asked her to think a little more about her communication and share her perspective here on the blog (yet another communication platform she is venturing out on.

Below, you will find her contribution (in German) and my loose translation (added a few details from our conversation) for the English speaking readers of this blog. Again, look at her testimonial through the lens of the extraordinary CHANGES in communication she has gone through in her life time!

Have you talked with your parents or grandparents about how their communication skills and platforms have changed with family and friends?

How do I communicate with my family, friends and acquaintances?
A few days ago, I celebrated my 76th birthday. Almost the entire day was filled with congratulations messages from all around the world. I live in Buenos Aires.

How lucky am I, that I own an iPad and an iPhone to make this possible. Of course, I still own an old fashioned landline telephone, that is reserved for my “older friends”, who do not have a cell phone or have not gotten used to new forms of communication!

A few years ago, it was also a big change for me to learn how to handle these new technologies. Today I am doing pretty good!

It all started with learning how to write emails to replace snail mail. Snail mail that more often than not did not arrive with the Argentinean postal service or arrived delayed and out of date. Today I still email with a few friends from High School from Germany who own a computer.

Then I needed to get used to Facebook several years ago, since it was the platform that my granddaughters (ages 27, 24 & 22) in the USA used to share posts and photos. Today the platform is already almost outdated and I have moved on to Instagram to stay connected with my granddaughters’ lives. I have started to not only lurk, but have a few of my own posts and am an active follower to be part of their lives. Of course, we also exchange iMessage and private messages on Facebook as a form to send short, instant messages to each other.

With my great-granddaughter Elena, who is 4 years old, I communicate mostly via Facetime. With my brother who currently lives in Japan with his family, we Skype. I only use Twitter to stay up to date with the news, but I do “like” a few posts every once in a while.

For about a year now, I use Whatsapp, which is very popular in Argentina. Almost all text communications runs via Whatsapp. Through Whatsapp I am in contact with my other granddaughter Sophia, who is 12 years old and just moved from Canada to São Paulo, Brazil.
I am now planning on exploring Snapchat, when I will visit my daughter and granddaughters in December.

On a side note: I am glad for the little globe button that allows me to quickly change languages between typing depending on the person I am communicating with.

Wie ich mit meiner Familie, Freunden und Bekannten kommuniziere!
Vor ein paar Tagen habe ich meinen 76. Geburtstag gefeiert. Fast der ganze Tag war ausgefüllt mit
Glückwünschen ‘all around the world’ Ich lebe in Buenos Aires.

Was ein Glück, daß ich einen I-pad und ein I-phone besitze. Natürlich besitze ich auch noch ein altmodisches Festnetz-Telefon, daß für ein paar “ältere Freundinnen” reserviert ist, die sich noch nicht an die neue Art zu kommunizieren gewöhnt haben! Auch für mich war es vor ein paar Jahren eine Umstellung, mit der neuen ‘Technology’ umzugehen! Heute geht es schon ganz gut!

Angefangen hat es mit e-Mails schreiben, die die Briefe ersetzten, die in Argentinien nie ankamen oder erst nach langer Zeit und dann nicht mehr aktuell waren! Heute maile ich noch mit einigen Freundinnen aus Deutschland, die schon einen Computer besitzen.

Dann mußte ich mich Facebook befreunden, da meine Enkelinnen in den USA diese ‘platform’ benutzten, um ihre Fotos und Posts publik zu machen. Heute ist dies auch schon wieder out-dated und ich bin auf Instagram umgestiegen. Dort befinden sich sogar schon ein paar eigene Posts und ich bin ‘Follower ‘ und nehme so am Leben der jungen Generation Teil!

Natürlich gehen auch kleine i-Messages hin und her. FaceTime ist bei meiner kleinen Urenkelin Elena beliebt! Geskypt wird mit meinem Bruder, der sich gerade in Japan aufhält, und Familie in Deutschland!

An Twitter hab ich mich bisher nur wegen de neuesten Nachrichten gewöhnt und verteile ab und zu ‘Likes’

Seit einem Jahr benutze ich auch Whatsapp, das in Argentinien sehr beliebt ist. Fast alles läuft über WA! Hier bin ich mit meiner Enkelin Sophia verbunden, die gerade von Canada nach Sao Paulo umgezogen ist!

Randbemerkung: Bin froh, daß es eine kleine Taste (Erdkugel) gibt, wo ich schnell die Sprache in der Tastatur wechseln kann…….je nach dem, mit wem ich gerade am texten bin.

Jetzt habe ich mir vorgenommen Snapchat zu lernen, wenn ich bei meiner Tochter und Enkelinnen im Dezember zu Besuch bin.

cross posted at

Silvia Tolisano is a Curriculum21 faculty member, author of the book Digital Storytelling Tools for Educators and founder of the Around the World with 80 Schools project. Read more at