My mom and I have an interesting Facebook relationship. We’d probably be “it’s complicated” if that still exists. She loves Facebook, and I work with Facebook all day so clearly I have some sort of complicated attachment too (although sometimes I wish I could just delete the damn thing but…). When she first got Facebook I didn’t know whether we should be friends. In a way, it felt scandalous. Like she was seeing some intimate peek into my college life that she wouldn’t normally see. I was away living in a dorm, going to frat parties, and studying for tests while she was at my childhood home just being my mom. Could she really handle it? Then I realized…she could. On the other hand, it also felt cool. I was old enough to be “friends” with my mom. Fun!
I’m sure when we first became Facebook friends during my sophomore-ish year of college (may have been junior year) she found some surprises she’d rather not have seen. She’d probably liked to have believed her little baby was studying on a Thursday when I was actually trying to figure out where the best house party was on the main drag of college housing. She was probably questioning who that boy with the shaggy hair was who kept writing on my Facebook wall. Don’t worry, Mom. He’s now my boyfriend of three years now. It’s fine.
Eventually as I grew up into adulthood, my mom probably became more and more comfortable with being my Facebook friend. I was of legal drinking age. I was older and more capable of making logical decisions because my brain was fully developed. It was okay. But as she becomes more and more comfortable, I become increasingly more uncomfortable with our online friendship. When you’re a kid, you have this image of your parents in your head. They’re perfect. They don’t swear. They don’t talk about anything bad. Who knows what they do. They just drive you places and watch boring TV and go to bed and worry about you. That’s how I’d prefer to think of my parents, truly. I know I’m 23 and should know better, but they’re my parents. They’re supposed to be uncomplicated and innocent.
But when I log on to Facebook and see my mom talking about drinking or using curse words or talking about “sluts” (even in the context of Rush Limbaugh) it’s just…weird. It’s like I’m seeing a side of her reserved for her adult friends, almost as if I’m spying on her or something. She’s no longer Mom. She’s a person. And I don’t know if I like it. I’d rather just have her in my head as the mom with the Mom car picking me up from piano lessons.
My mom was always the cool mom. We talked about birth control and guys and all of that stuff. We were always friends. But somehow I managed to see her as a friend but still very much my perfect, mom-like Mom. On the one hand I like seeing her true, adult personality. She’s super funny. She’s sarcastic. She’s smart and knows all about politics. She tells a great story. She has a lot of friends. But on the other hand, sometimes it’s just WAY TMI. I won’t lie, I’ve defriended her before. I’m not proud of it, but I have. It happened when we were fighting or when she posted something that was just way over the top. She always got so offended that the friendship invitation was quickly reissued. The other thing I like about being Facebook friends with my mom is that I get to find out about things happening around the house since I’m no longer there. For instance, I knew not to come over for several weeks when we were having a mouse problem. This is useful information. I also like sending her links to funny stories or just telling her I love her. It’s nice and feels very 21st century-chic. She posts good stuff on my wall too. But when she makes a sexual joke, I know that no heads up about a mouse could ever undo what has happened to my mind after reading said joke. What a tangled web we weave, no? This is probably exactly why Zuckerberg made an “it’s complicated” button…
I’m going to remain friends with my mom, but if I had the chance to unsee her posts and start from scratch I think I may have opted not to begin the friendship. It definitely changed things. Maybe it was time to realize that there is so much more to my mom than just being a mom, but in a way I kind of liked my naive beliefs. My cousin and I were talking and she feels the same way about her own mom, which is actually what triggered this whole post. Are you Facebook friends with your parents? Do you enjoy it or regret it? Luckily my dad still think Ask Jeeves is a thing, so I don’t think I have to worry about him joining Facebook for at least another five or six years.
Think about what a 21st century problem this is. This would never have happened fifty years ago. Or even twenty. Or ten. We’re lucky to live in such an advanced society, but sometimes it has its issues. #21stcenturyproblems