Friday, January 7, 2011

When Grandmothers Join Facebook

Facebook. It’s an anomaly with the best intentions and even more annoying applications. You can be poked, harvest crops, garnish weapons for the mafia, be bitten by vampires, and...oh, right, reconnect with friends and family members.

Truly, though, thank goodness for facebook. It reminds me of how many of my high school and college companions are married (and which ones were pregnant before the ceremony and which were not). Facebook keeps me up-to-date with my friend’s illnesses from the common cold to chronic diarrhea, who has the hot job, who lives in a constant state of self pity, and I saw no less than nine facebook statuses regarding the season premiere of Jersey Shore.

When I created my account five years ago the biggest achievement of facebook was the bumper sticker application and membership was limited to college students. Those were the glory days. No parents allowed. No old teachers. No young children. Every status was riddled with profanity and every picture uploaded had those glaring red Solo cups in hand. Comments like “Thank God my mom can’t see this” were quite common.

But it was inevitable. First facebook opened up to high school students, and then the flood gates fell. I could hear Oprah, “You get a facebook! You get a facebook! You get a facebook!” There was panic in the streets. I remember vividly writing on my friend’s profile about a classy beer pong event in which she promptly deleted. I was halted with confusion! Until she told me:

“You can’t write that on my wall...my mom is on facebook.”

There was a collective gasp on college campuses across the nation. Mothers? On facebook? And dads? And Mrs. Shawver, my first grade teacher? And Mrs. Johnston who used to baby-sit me?

The day my mother created a facebook profile was the day I untagged, and removed, 95% of my red Solo cup pictures. I cleaned up my profile out of the sheer concept of principle. Looking back now I would say that it happened for the best, however I still look back fondly on those early unleashed facebook years.

I thought the worst was behind me. I had accepted friend requests from all over my family, teachers, neighbors, and the like. It was the week of Christmas, intended to be a happy and merry time, when I received this text:

“I am going to be joining facebook. Is that the correct verbiage?” From - my grandmother.

There are two things happening here. First of which is that she TEXT me. The woman was born without indoor plumbing, but now she is TEXTING me. Second of which, my grandmother is actually going to join facebook - and wants to make sure she's saying that right. My concerns are severe. The woman once asked how to “save something to the internet.” I have no doubt that over time she WILL get the hang of facebook. She will understand the difference between the “news feed” and “wall posts” and know what “tagging” means. In the meantime, I will prepare myself for her facebook status asking ME how I’m doing, with complete disregard that everyone in her facebook world can see what she has written. I will prepare myself for “Is this working? Can you see this?” posts. But the day she asks how to get pictures off her new phone and onto her facebook...will be the day I give her call to my sister.

Alas, with my grandmother in the facebook realm there are no more places to hide. Every drunken picture will be met with a stern look. Every "smart" comment will be questioned. Grandmothers are for a lot of things: home-cooked meals, spoiling kids rotten, giving you candy when your parents said not to, and driving really really slow. They are NOT for facebook.

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