Sorry, Ruby – My Friends and I Ran Your Friends Off Facebook

It’s true. And some days, I’d desperately love to give it back.

Like most of the folks my age, I joined Facebook to spy on my kids. Not, as my daughter believed, to spoil all her digital fun, but because I’ve been hanging out online since the early 80s and know it’s not all sweetness and light. I just wanted to keep an eye on things, as best I could–to head trouble off at the pass, and keep her safe.

My son only joined Facebook out of curiosity, and he only stayed to keep his mom’s orchards stocked with fake fruit trees. That grew old fast, for both of us. But it was fun for a while.

Before long, both my kids were past needing close supervision on the Internet; my daughter was busy with college; my son found his own venues on YouTube and Steam. But by then I’d found my best friend from 9th grade, reconnected with my childhood pen pal from Sweden, made new friends, and found new readers for my children’s books.

When my own Dad joined Facebook, I laughed at the irony.

“Oh my God,” I moaned. “It’s every child’s nightmare! My Dad just Friended me on Facebook!” I was laughing as I typed that in an email to him, and the minute I clicked Send, I went to Facebook to confirm his Friend request.

He wrote back, “I promise not to be judgmental!” What does the man think I post there, anyway?

“I know you won’t be judgmental. It wouldn’t do you much good if you were.” I was 46 years old, for Heaven’s sake, and my Dad wasn’t going to learn any deep, dark secrets about me on Facebook. Except–well, there is that post about eating balut. But he’s largely to blame for my adventurous nature when it comes to trying new foods, so I figure he deserves the glassy-eyed glare from Mad Duck, the Angry Balut.

I thought this was hilarious, but apparently it was a social media crisis three or four years ago, for a lot of kids – the hot news stories included, Friended by Mom and Dad on Facebook, and “Mom, I Love You, But Please Don’t Friend Me on Facebook.” We parents struggled with the guilt – truly, we did. But then we figured it was all part of that growing up process, where our kids eventually realize they have no more control over us than we have over them, and maybe we can actually be Facebook Friends, even if it sometimes makes them (and us!) cringe and roll our eyes.

As for those pictures, Ruby, the Internet is forever. It doesn’t matter where they’re posted; if they can be crawled, searched for, seen by others, downloaded, or shared — they’re out there for moms, dads, aunts, creepy perverts, and future employers to see. But I daresay, if you’re fully clothed and not holding the red Solo cup, and nobody dies or gets hurt, it’ll be okay. We were all young and did foolish things, once upon a time. If it doesn’t feel okay – you call Mom and Dad and get a ride home. If you think it’s not going to look good on the Internet ten or twenty years from now, call and get a ride home.

silver-lake-grade2Ruby, you wrote, I’m 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook – and I thought, isn’t that funny? I’m 50, and darned near everyone I ever knew is on Facebook. Kids I went to 1st grade with are on Facebook. And one of these days, when you’re listening to the music you grew up with and it’s on the “Oldies” station, you’ll find that all your friends are on Instagram or Snapchat (assuming either site’s still around), and your kids – I hope – will be out riding their bikes, doing cannonballs in the neighborhood pool, and inventing the next hot teen trend.

That’s just how it’s meant to be.

HollyJahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.
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14 thoughts on “Sorry, Ruby – My Friends and I Ran Your Friends Off Facebook”

  1. Does your Dad keep at it? It’s great they have use for Facebook too. Big leap – most seniors online activities used to be limited to writing and reading emails.Now they can socialize, post selfies, sigh ex cathedra on their updates and be gentlemen “farmers” at the same time.

  2. I tried to get off of FB a couple of times because relatives us it to make digs and think they can get away with ugly comments and drama. But when I got off of FB, they went drama city because I deactivated my account. So the account is active, but I’m not activity on it and I’m seriously considering creating a private account with ONLY friends on it. Family is drama and I’m not talking MY generation (I’m 43) – I’m talking OLDER generations. It’s crazy!!
    Aleta recently posted…Rubber DuckyMy Profile

    1. I don’t think the children really understand that the wild college kid from The Social Network did what everybody else does. He grew up, he’s now an adult. Let that be a lesson to the little ones, someday soon they too will be adults and will be forced to listen to the self-important whining of their own teenagers.
      Cairn Rodrigues recently posted…Curating Your Social MediaMy Profile

  3. Drama is drama – it\’s just less funny when it\’s in the family, with people you care about, and you can\’t easily walk away and leave it in the dust. One requirement of having a Facebook account should be having a good sense of humor and knowing when to walk away and LEAVE IT ON FACEBOOK. That\’s about the only way my dad and I survive election season. 🙂

    1. Well, he’s older now, that’s for sure… as for your other assertions… 😉

      But yes. Although, I love watching the teens grow up and realize a whole different perspective. That’s when you truly understand that what goes around, comes around. And it’s true that the ones who had open minds and a sense of humor – as well as a realization that some day, they’d be older – tend to fare better, and have better attitudes about the whole thing.
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted…Using Social Media to ComplainMy Profile

  4. Facebook has proven to be interesting when it comes to old friends and family. I’ve talked more to some family members on there than I have in person for an entire lifetime. I’ve also had people reach out to me and then disappear; what’s that about? My mother isn’t techie so I don’t have to worry about that, and she’s pretty much a recluse so I don’t have anything to worry about if someone decided they were going to contact her because of something I said or done…

    Not that I do anything or share anything for anyone to go to her on 😉
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…5 Things About Writing That You Might Never Think OfMy Profile

    1. An old acquaintance contacted me tonight, and I think he put it best: “Nostalgia can be somewhat OCD-inducing.” I think that’s what’s behind people reaching out, then disappearing. I think it’s true that we can’t sustain more than about 100-150 “meaningful” relationships simultaneously, but I think we can meaningfully drift in and out like threads in a tapestry, our lives occasionally intersecting. There are many people I’m “connected to” on Facebook that I won’t talk to more than briefly, once or twice a year – or decade – but they do matter to me.
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Consider the SourceMy Profile

      1. No, I just got your “keep in touch email”. But the topic had nothing I could comment on, because you covered it all. And I never play games on F/B. I’m just not a game player.
        The chicken soup would alas, have to be canned, as between Texas and Ontario, I am sure some government functionary would consume it.
        Take care!

  5. Hi Holly;
    Just got your email and wanted to say “Nice touch”!
    Am not online too much these days, as we are getting ready for a month long trip to Europe.
    I don’t use my real last name on Facebook or anywhere else on the internet, because I prefer the anonymity. Don’t want my clients interacting with me there, not to mention hubby’s or my own relatives. Our kids have always been of the 4-legged variety and they don’t care about it. 🙂 There’s only one friend from my physical life on there and we go back more than 40 years. Other friends just aren’t into it. Mostly, my connections come from QnA and the Blogosphere. It does look like we older folks have taken over Facebook, doesn’t it? Many younger people are into Reddit, apparently.
    Thanks for keeping in touch and have a good weekend.
    Cheers,
    Debbie
    Debbie recently posted…#8Sunday WEEKEND WRITING WARRIORS, AUG. 18/13My Profile

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