Thursday, June 2, 2011

You have a new friend request

There is a special kind of "Oh Shit" moment in every young person's life. That is, of course, when your parents take the most defining leap into the 21st century and get a facebook account.

This usually arrives after years of ridiculing it, refusing it and denouncing it as something they're "too old" to do, leaving you with a false sense of security that you've potentially avoided some intense confrontation, until the day they mention in an eerily casual tone that, even though they still don't understand it, they've joined The Facebook .

So what is a young person to do? I mean, you have to accept your parent's friend request, unless you want to unleash several months of

"Why can't I see your page yet? "
"Have you accepted my friend request yet? "
"I don't think the facebook is working- it says we aren't friends! "
"What is on your secret page that I can't see??? "

Okay, fine. It might even be fun to be friends with your folks, you foolishly tell yourself. You suck it up and prepare for a period of adjustment while they learn the ins and outs of the whole "social networking" thing. You patiently introduce them to the idea of Facebook Etiquette. You gently remind them not to accept every request to play Farmville, Cityville, Suburbanville, Veganville, GiveMeYourPrivateInfoville and Mob Wars. You smack their hand the first (and second) time they get hacked and repeatedly point out spam (You are never going to know who is looking at your page, folks! And I don't care if your old friend from high school posted it on your wall, any video that begins with "OMG!" or "You'll never believe.." is never safe. Period). And then you cringe with embarrassment when they start

1. Responding to the posts of friends of yours that they've never even met.
2. Posting on your page, like, 15 times a day.
3. Publicly, but never intentionally, criticizing you, your friend's comments, your photos that they find unforgivable * Funny, Tragic and True Story: My own aunt de-friended me after seeing photos that made me look "like a jezebel" . As I am fully clothed and at a respectable level of soberness in all of my photos, I still can't figure out which one pushed her over the edge.
4. Posting embarrassing statuses about their children and then getting defensive when you mention that perhaps talking openly about my mental health with people I hardly know (or never met) may not entirely appropriate, considering the open forum and all, and besides, I save that gold for my blog, not my facebook! .... Ahem.
5. Complaining about not "getting what their giving" via friend requests, messages, comments, etc- and then broaching that delicate conversation of "people are self involved, don't take it personally".
6. Start friending your those friends of yours they still have never met.

That's when the gates of hell start showing strain and little bits of dialogue and info start seeping through while you stare at your computer, clutching the sides of your face in horror.

The thing that seems to take the most time, is getting them to understand the difference between private messaging and public posts. Any kind of assistance in differentiating between the two usually results in

"Oh Jessica, don't be ridiculous!  "
"Well, I just can't understand all that- messaging and comments and stuff   " or worse,
"If you're so embarrassed by your mother, then I just won't be your friend on the facebook anymore  "

And then, all of a sudden, it becomes an argument about how you, the child, once again just don't have any respect for their years of sacrifice while you feel your temperature boil over until you find yourself screeching like a banshee,

"Everyone can see! Everyone can see! Arrrghhhh  "

The silver lining in this is, eventually it all settles down. Really, it does! Your parents become productive members of facebook, their good intentions become a little less abrasive, and you start wondering what you were so worked up over. They have found a little internet discretion and you have stopped freaking out over every little comment, wondering if people are judging  you based off of what your parents are saying.

You only have to deal with occasional missteps, like today when my mother posted a link to an article on NPR about healthy eating.

I chose not to fight her on this. I chose to not melt into pile of paranoid goo. Perhaps not everyone looked at that and immediately thought that I was a fat fat fatty on a diet (I am on a diet) or that I was an unhealthy eater (I am kind of an unhealthy eater).

Oh, dear god, I hope that is not what they think.

ps- Mom, if you read this, you know I love you more than french toast and cupcakes combined. My blog is mostly giggles and dirty talk and less Salem witch trials. I think your facebook-ing is coming along swell.


Charcoal Renderings said...

I SO relate to this. I had an experience with my mom today where, sitting twenty feet from me on her computer, she stands up and accuses, "You didn't tell me about [insert what my latest status was]!"

...I just looked at her like... "Mom. Really?"

She's not TOO bad, but it's definitely been an adjustment. :-D

Jessica said...

Facebook opens up a lot parental aggression that you didn't know you deserved! It truly is amazing.

Little Missy Me said...

Oh, classic writing, you nailed it exactly as it happens.
It was also quite awkward for me when my much younger brother added me... quick, sensor those photos!

katie said...

The day my stepmother friend requested me on Facebook, is the day my heart stopped. I literally stared at it for 10 minutes, jaw dropping, wondering how on Earth she even managed to set up an account. I denyed her request.

It made dinner awkaward.

Jessica said...

Little Missy Me- Thank you!
Katie- My dad's lady friends have avoided me like the plague on facebook, which is probably for the best!