Image from Wikimedia Commons.
Facebook is like a party that’s totally fun until the adults come and ruin everything. For members of the Facebook generation, nothing can kill your social media buzz like parents who show up to make sure everyone is playing nice, or worse, join in on the fun. Man, if you thought your dad’s rendition of “Rosalita” he sings at every family function was embarrassing, imagine him uploading the video to his page. Then, when he tags you in the video for all of your friends to see, it was no use that you tried casually hiding behind your grandmother or pretending that you are in no way related to this crazy Springsteen wannabe. Family reunions come around every year or so, but the Internet is forever.
Mothers on Facebook, though, can present a whole different set of complications. Those photos of you and your friends at last Friday’s kegger will show up on her newsfeed and totally blow your cover story of spending all night in the library. Like it or not, Facebook allows mothers an unprecedented amount of access to their children’s everyday lives, especially as more adults are embracing the world of social networking.
Liz Ryan, a former Fortune 500 executive, says she has embraced Facebook, much to the chagrin of her 14-year-old daughter. In her article for Bloomberg Businessweek, “Worlds Colliding: My Mom’s on Facebook!” she says, “If you think the Internet is a vast, unimaginably spacious environment, try sharing it with a 14-year-old… If there ever was a 21st century situation that brought to mind the Old West warning ‘this town’s not big enough for the both of us,’ it’s finding your own mother on Facebook.”
Ryan’s article goes on to detail the ups and downs of being friends with her daughter on Facebook. Ryan says that once her daughter got over the initial shock, she was happy to show her mom some of her favorite things about Facebook, like the superlatives application. Still, the mother-daughter friendship has not been without its rocky moments, like when Ryan sent her a message calling her “pumpkin,” to which she replied…
“PUMPKIN!?!?! God, Mom, whatever!”
Though, it should be pointed out that the last anecdote could have easily happened in real life and not via Facebook. While social networking site may be revolutionizing the way we relate to the women who gave us the gift of life, some things will never change. If I may speak personally for a moment…
I love my mother dearly, but she is not the most tech savvy of parents. She constantly calls my siblings and me over to the computer to ask for help, and every time she says, “Oh honey, I know you showed me before but I’ll never ask you again if you could show me how just one more time.” To her credit, she has gotten better at using her computer–a laptop, at least eight years old that she insists works “just fine thank you very much.”
Case in point: three years ago, I received a notification that my mother wanted to be my friend on Facebook. My jaw hit the floor. This was the same woman who thought an instant message was a virus attacking her computer, now telling me she had created her own Facebook page. I let the request sit in my inbox while I debated, should I be friends with my mom on Facebook? This humorous flowchart might have been handy at the time.
I did not have that flowchart at my disposal, but I did decide to bite the bullet and click the “Accept” button. Since then, my relationship with my mom on Facebook would have to fall under the category of “It’s Complicated.” For example, I never thought I would hear my mother say, “Honey, I don’t know about your new profile picture…” Or I’ll never forget the time she Facebook chatted me to check up on what I was doing that weekend. She initiated the chat by accident, but once she realized she had instant communication with me, she took the opportunity to casually ask what I was up to on my Friday evening. I told her I was going to visit a friend’s apartment. Once satisfied with my answer, she told me about her evening plans.
“It is first Friday and I am scheduled for Adoration at church, need to pray for my beautiful children!”
It’s surreal to see how our mother-daughter relationship has evolved, yet stayed exactly the same due to Facebook. She’s the same concerned and caring mother, online and in the real world.
Other college students spoke with me about their experiences with mothers and Facebook, and since Mother’s Day is coming up, their identities will remain anonymous for the sake of the holiday. Their stories reveal that you may get more than you bargain for when you click the “Accept” button.
“I’m not friends with my mom on Facebook, but she doesn’t have an account because she thinks we won’t friend her anyway. But if I were, I don’t think I’d have to censor myself. She already knows I’m a degenerate!”
The student then brought up an interesting point about censoring yourself for mommy dearest:
“Ideally, your facebook shouldn’t have anything on it that would make a potential employer (or a parent or relative for that matter) turn their head.”
A word to the wise: If you wouldn’t post it on Facebook for your mom to see, you might not want to post it at all. Then again, that might depend on the relationship you have with your mother.
“I had skanky photos up on Facebook that my sister had posted,” said another student. “So I commented saying ‘Brit can you take this off – my boobs are hanging out!’ and my mom commented back, ‘If you got em – flaunt em!’”
Written by: Mary Kate Polanin