5 Lessons My 97 Year Old Bubbe Taught Me About Social Media

By Carrie Kerpen

This is Bubbe at our baseball wedding. She danced all night on the baseball field. She was 89 here.

My 97 year old Bubbe passed away at the beginning of this year. She never REALLY understood what I did for a living, and asked me repeatedly about it. As I was preparing the eulogy for her funeral and thinking about all the lessons she taught me, I realized that although she had no clue about social media, a lot of her life lessons applied to my trade. Here are some of the things my beautiful Bubbe taught me. Hopefully you’ll find them useful.

 1. Life’s a party. Show UP!

My Bubbe didn’t miss a single family event, even when she was tired beyond compare. She loved life, and she showed up, with a smile on her face, every single day. Although she didn’t have foursquare, she easily could have been dubbed the “mayor” of the Flushing House, her Assisted Living facility, as she was constantly organizing events, and participating in conversations that took place around her.  Social Media is filled with parties…conversations going on with or without you. Show up and have a richer experience.

2. Language is different- and beautiful.

My Bubbe was a child of immigrants, and one who was determined to keep the Yiddish language alive. She taught me many phrases—some of which made sense and some of which didn’t. When I was a baby, she sang me “Shluf”, a lullaby about sleeping. When I was a teenager, she taught me “Gey Gezunta Heydt”—which meant “go in good health” (this got me through many a heartbreak).  She also taught me “Gey Kokken Offen Yom”- a saying which apparently means “go take a shit in the ocean”. While I never really understood it, I found it hysterical.  Languages are incredibly rich and complex. Using the art of language to communicate in social media will make your conversations deeper and establish your true voice. I knew my Bubbe’s voice instantly…does your brand have a voice that’s as distinct?

3. Babies and puppies make everything better.

Even at the VERY end of her life, when she had no energy left, my Bubbe’s face would light up when she saw my daughters walk through the door.  Heck, her face would light up when ANY child walked anywhere near her. It was the same with pets. She was delighted by things that were innocent and pure. Content that resonates within social media is often correlated with the things that warm your heart in real life.  Use visuals that evoke emotion.

4. Don’t take yourself so seriously.

When I was a rebellious pre-teen, my Bubbe used to babysit me. As many pre-adolescents do,  I would frequently call my Bubbe mean, awful, and a strict monster. Bubbe would look me square in the eye, smile out of the corner of her mouth, and say  in her Bronx accent, “SO? Report me to the Bad Bubbe Association”. She would knock me right off of my high horse. In social media, we can’t predict how others will react. Don’t take yourself so seriously, and laugh off what you can’t control.

5. Connections are deep and everlasting.

My parents had an amazing marriage, and I saw love every day. But I first truly learned about love from watching my Bubbe talk about her husband, who passed away before I was born. Watching her helped me understand that love and connection wasn’t just about the people standing right in front of you—it transcended time and space. Don’t underestimate the value of connections made online. They often mean much more than you think—even connections between people and the brands they love.

Think about some of the lessons your loved ones have taught you. Do any of them apply to social media?

nanjhnyc April 3, 2013
As someone who works in social media and has a 97 year old grandmother in law, who also has no clue what I do - this was perfect. Thank you for sharing and I'm sorry for your loss.
[...] article I came across recently called “5 Lessons My 97 Year Old Bubbe Taught Me About Social Media”  discusses life lessons that can be applied to social media.  This got me thinking, where else [...]
Glenn February 4, 2013
What a beautiful article. I once had the idea to interview a lot of older people and use their life lessons in the online world! Their knowledge, values and sincerity can actually not be lost.
Diego Santos Sicardo January 31, 2013
Great article Carrie, very touching. Sorry for your loss.
Gabriella NpaComputers January 31, 2013
I enjoyed this article and it made many great key points.
disqus_ClK8J5MIUO January 30, 2013
Amazing sentiment Carrie-brought me to tears. She was an incredible lady with an equally incredible granddaughter!

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