By Zenaida Serrano
Advertiser Staff Writer
Her tweets are charmingly honest: "When I ate Chinese dessert, fried mochi rolled in sesame seeds, it was so sticky my dentures fell out! I just pretended nothing happened."
And sometimes they're sassy: "Fixing b'fast. Papaya. Oatmeal. Mega-vitamins 2x day. My doc advised against this. He's now dead."
But mostly her tweets are about food: "Can't sleep. I think I ate too much today. I finally figured out what linguini is. Flat spaghetti. Oh, what a funny word."
Meet Florence Hasegawa, 101, known by her growing Twitter following as "GrandmaFlorence." The Lahaina resident, with more than 1,100 followers, said keeping in touch with her great-grandchildren who live away from Maui is one of the things she enjoys most about Twitter.
"I feel happy about it," said Hasegawa, who spoke loudly over the phone because she's hearing-impaired.
"She got Christmas letters from them and they were saying, 'Oh, it's so much fun reading about you (and) what you're doing every day!' " said Pat Masumoto, Hasegawa's youngest daughter, who helped with the phone interview.
Hasegawa began tweeting in August, after Masumoto created a Twitter account for her. Tweeting has since become a team effort, with Hasegawa, Masumoto and family friend Luz Bernabe working together to keep family and friends posted on Hasegawa's daily doings.
"Between (Luz) and Mom and I, we (post) what Mom is doing; Mom is telling us constantly what she's doing," Masumoto said.
Masumoto also pulls information from Hasegawa's daily journal, with Hasegawa's permission, of course.
"So the posts are like an addendum to the journal," said Masumoto, an artist, playwright and musician from Pukalani.
Masumoto does the actual typing and posting to keep updates within Twitter's 140-character limit.
Hasegawa, by the way, decided to give up typing after retiring just over a year ago from her job as a marriage license agent, a job she had for more than 60 years.
" 'I typed for all those years,' " Masumoto recalled her mom telling her. " 'I just rather write.' "
Masumoto prints out all of Hasegawa's Twitter posts and replies because Hasegawa prefers to read them on paper, Masumoto said.
"She does read all the responses," Masumoto noted.
Hasegawa's favorite tweet subject is food. Recent posts mentioned over-boiling mochi, reminding family to bring her sushi and sashimi, and eating stuffed salmon.
"I'm too old, so I cannot be ... thinking about the world or anything," Hasegawa quipped loudly. "I just think about what I have to eat. Every day I wonder what I have to eat."
"Social networking is a vital link for seniors, both for the mind and the spirit," said Barbara Kim Stanton, state director of AARP Hawaii. "Seniors have often told us that what is particularly difficult about aging is the sense of isolation and boredom."
But it doesn't have to be that way, Stanton said. "With the Internet, companionship is a keystroke away."
Here's advice for social networking seniors, courtesy AARP, The Magazine:
• Set up privacy settings for your online profile, so the intimacies of your life don't become public when people find you in a search. Facebook, for example, lets you decide who can see your info and photos. You can limit exposure to "friends" or even just a few people on your list.
• Don't rush to friend your teen or college-age kids or grandkids on these sites; wait to see if they reach out to you. There are some things you really don't want to know about your little angels. Plus, they probably like having their own parent-free space on the Web.
• Don't post boring status updates on Facebook to comment about every single second of your day. If you must share, save those comments for Twitter. Your associates don't want a dull rundown of how you overslept this morning, are having tummy issues and can't find that missing sock.
• Don't friend strangers and spend hours inspecting or commenting on their profiles. Same goes for people you haven't seen in years. Social networking sites are for staying in touch — not stalking.
• For a social networking primer, including how to get started on Facebook and Twitter, visit www.aarp.org and search for "boomers and social networking."
If you use Twitter, here are a couple of things to consider, courtesy Jodi Ito, information security officer with University of Hawai'i's Information Technology Services:
• Avoid TTMI — Tweeting Too Much Information. It's easy to post "at the coffee shop" or "heading to the library" so friends can meet up with you. But you're also telling everyone that you're not home. Be careful of what you tweet and don't disclose too much information about yourself or family and friends. You may compromise their identities and perhaps even their safety.
• Be aware of Twitter frauds. Be cautious if you receive a direct message in Twitter directing you to what looks like Twitter.com: Inspect the URL closely because it could be a fake Web site waiting for you to give up your Twitter password. Phishers can use your Twitter account to try to scam your followers into giving up their password, and then the phishing scheme will go on and on. And once they have your password, they can also tweet in your name about "interesting Web sites" that are actually infected with malicious software (malware) that can glean your private information.
Reach Zenaida Serrano at 535-8174. Follow her Twitter updates at www.twitter.com/zenaidaserrano.