Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Reflections on My Journey with the Internet:

Can an Old Dog Learn New Tricks?

As I make my final preparations for my next trip to Europe at the end of April, ideas for my newest travel journal posted in real time flood my brain. WHEW! How far I've come in a few short months! And with that, what a good time it is to reflect on the evolution of my relationship with technology, social media, and the internet. 

This blog in addition to my As Seen By Susan Facebook page are both new adventures of mine that I launched during the first three months of 2015. It all began last fall when I took a trip to Istanbul, Turkey and Nice, France during which time I kept what I liked to call my "unofficial travel journal" on my personal FB page. Since I have been a picture-taker all my life, I figured it would be fun to post a few pictures now and then along with a bit of an explanation just to let people know where I was.

Little did I know when I posted my first few pictures how much my friends and family would enjoy them, nor how exciting it would be for me to see who "liked" each post and to read the comments. As a result, I began to post daily photos along with expanded commentary--be it a description of the location, the stories surrounding the photos, or my personal reactions or insights to traveling. Quickly I became hooked on the process, and as I took pictures each day, I found myself thinking how I could use them in my next Facebook post later that night back at my hotel.

After I returned home, I was surprised by another perk of posting my photo journal on Facebook--the Social Book. In a few short keystrokes, I was able to order a hard copy version of all my Facebook posts from the dates spanning my trip. So now I had a printed version of my photo journal, including all the "likes" and comments of my FB friends. How cool was that? (My answer: Very cool!)

Nevertheless, offhand comments by several people made me realize that I was not reaching all those friends and family who were not on Facebook. Thus, the seed for starting a blog was planted. But how? As an aside, I am a self-proclaimed technology-phobe and am not at all adventuresome on the internet. That I had figured out on my own how to post pictures and text on Facebook on my iPad for my unofficial travel journal was indeed my greatest accomplishment to date. But I was also aware that posting travel photos on my personal FB page had its limitations. (It had to do with mixing my public travel journal with my personal politics and other potentially controversial topics.) So that became the impetus I needed to learn how to create a second FB page that would be dedicated to my travel photos and commentary along with selected posts I chose to share from other sites.

Looking back three months out, it really was relatively easy, but at the time it was akin to taking "three giant steps for mankind." I studied pages of travel sites I followed on Facebook including The Good Life France  and Henri Loves Paris. I even messaged the authors who generously shared a few of their secrets of getting started. And so on January 1, 2015, I took the giant leap and launched my new Facebook site As Seen By Susan. However, I still was not reaching my friends who were Facebook averse, and that bothered me. I knew what it meant--writing a blog. But once again, how?

I read all the how-to posts online and tinkered with free sites such as Blogger, WordPress and Weebly. But at the first sign of confusion on my part, I baled. I asked online friends who blogged, and while all were very kind, their advice was basically to just jump in. So I examined the blogs of other sites I followed including two of my favorites-- Paris Adele and Paris Through My Lensand on March 15 I gathered up my courage and jumped in. This blog site is the result.

Now I have a two platforms that serve multiple purposes as I ease into my second six months of my first year of retirement. Posting my photos gives me a creative venue to share my view of what I see--when I travel, or in my garden, or in Walla Walla (my hometown), or in the surrounding Pacific Northwest states of Washington and Oregon. Writing allows me to practice the very skill I taught for 24 years to 6th and 7th graders and is another creative outlet. And having an internet presence via Facebook and my blog keeps me in touch with old friends while also making many new friends. 

I'd say this old dog most definitely learned a host of new tricks and can still proudly wear the badge of "Lifelong Learner."

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