Okay, I’ll admit that I’m tired of being the dinosaur in the family. I was the last to learn how to use a DVD, the last to learn how to use a cell phone, and the last to learn how to use a computer. I finally brushed the cobwebs out of my brain and took a computer class geared for geriatric-aged people. For months I tinkered around on the computer and discovered how much I liked watching weird videos on YouTube, reading blog sites and emailing friends who had given up such relics as stationery, ink pens and postage stamps eons ago. My kids also set up a Facebook account for me but I rarely looked at it. In fact, I thought it was kind of silly spending all that time chatting away with people I hadn’t seen since Jimmy Carter was in the oval office. At the time I was also sharing the clunky, old, family computer with three other people in the house, so it seemed pointless to get into a juicy conversation with an old friend online when my kids were hovering nearby, waiting their turn to neglect their homework in favor of socializing on Facebook.
Life changed the day my husband surprised me with my very own computer for Christmas! It was the Holy Grail of communication for me, and every time I lifted the lid on my laptop, I swear I could hear the Hallelujah Chorus when the keyboard lit up. Suddenly I couldn’t get enough of it—I was zipping through videos, blogs, emails and googling stupid stuff like kangaroos trained to play Ping-Pong in Australia. It was a heady experience—all that power at my finger tips—with one click I had access to THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE…or at least a great recipe for low fat meatloaf.
And then one day I let my fingers do the walking through Facebook, and I discovered this whole, new neighborhood filled with hundreds of people who at one time or another were important in my life. I badgered my kids daily to help me set up my profile, upload nice (i.e. flattering) pictures and to locate people I haven’t seen since we marched out of the high school auditorium with diplomas in our hands.
That’s when the real fun started—friend requests were sent and received like rapid gunfire over the internet. I was sending friend requests to EVERYONE…including people I hadn’t seen since nursery school. “Hey, remember me? We shared a mat together during nap time in Mr. Jim’s class…”
Even more fun was checking up on the Facebook status of each of my children, and leaving silly comments on their walls. One son threatened to “unfriend” me for reminding him on his Facebook wall to brush his teeth before going to bed. I kept forgetting that my comments were like a neon sign on his wall for the entire teenage population to see.
I had to adapt to computer lingo before I could join the Facebook community. Stuff like LOL, BRB, LMAO, TY, DK, BFF, TMI, UR2, TXT, TTYL, and ROFLMAO. Pretty soon my fingers were flying over the keyboard so fast, I was making up my own abbreviations:
Bking choc pi 2 nte 4U. RU2 cmg ovr 4 dnr? (Baking chocolate pie tonight for you. Are you two coming over for dinner?)
I started talking in abbreviations as well, and both my husband and kids looked at me as if I’d sprouted a third eye because of my garbled lingo: “pza 2nte 4 dnr. I’ll BRB from Dr. off. TTYL.”
At this point my teens were nauseated by my Facebook enthusiasm. They never expected this old fossil to become a Facebook aficionado. I was obsessed with it—not only could I catch up with past friends, I could share recipes with them, videos, music, photos of the grandchildren and get good advice from dozens of people on how to stop my dog from pooping on the living room carpet. I could change my status daily or even hourly, and there was always someone out there reading it, ready to send me a smile or a sympathetic ear to my daily grumblings. My husband just shook his head and asked, “Why do you need to know who’s cheating on their diet right at this very moment with a strawberry and cream frappucino from Starbucks, or who’s secretly sucking down vodka martinis in a Spiderman thermos at their kid’s soccer game? Why do you even care?”
I couldn’t explain to him that it was all just part of being involved in the Facebook community.
Over time I have learned that there are certain, unwritten rules that need to be adhered to while using Facebook. For instance:
#1. You’ve heard of drunk texting? Drunk Facebooking is worse. DO NOT get lubed up on cheap beer or wine and stalk old boyfriends/girlfriends, or write depressing messages on your wall about feeling unloved or under-appreciated.
#2. If you’ve got food poisoning or the flu, please refrain from sharing your symptoms, in detail, in your day’s status. Some of us already have weak stomachs.
#3. Keep negative comments to yourself. If your best friend posts a picture of herself in a new pair of jeans, don’t ask her if it’s too late to get her money back.
#4. Do not discuss politics on Facebook. Pretty soon forty people will be arguing on your wall over who would make a better president/senator/governor. Eventually they’ll all agree that Pee wee Herman should be a write-in candidate.
#5. If several of your Facebook friends are dieting, do not post pictures of the calorie-laden, mouth-watering meal you just consumed with a Rachel Ray description of every bite you took.
#6. This is the most important one of all. DO NOT TAG YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY MEMBERS IN UNFLATTERING PICTURES!!! To me, this is the worst offense on Facebook. It’s hard enough to be a middle-aged person trying to look ten years younger by posting the most flattering pictures of yourself on Facebook. After all, EVERYONE sees these photos—old lovers, ex spouses, high school rivals, distant cousins, the family dog….you’ve got to look NICE in these pictures!
When you finally think you’ve got the best pictures of yourself posted (you know, the ones with your stomach sucked in, chest out, chin up, hair perfectly coiffed), something terrible is bound to happen that will shatter that image of perfection on the computer screen. Your kids (or a not-so-nice friend, in-law, etc.) will take great delight in posting a horrendous picture of you from last summer’s backyard barbecue—the one where you’re mid-bite into a juicy burger and there’s mayonnaise all over your face. Or that picture taken last Christmas that the kids think is so hilarious because they caught you on camera at 3:00 a.m. putting presents under the tree. No makeup, wild hair, ratty, old pajamas and looking very much like a rabid possum. They shamelessly tag you in these photos on Facebook without a second thought.
The definition of blackmail? When your family posts these gawd awful pictures while you’re out of town (and miles from any WiFi spots) or schlepping around Walmart, and you have NO IDEA that the entire universe has already viewed the REAL YOU in living color. This can scar you for life, and you’ll end up shouting in your sleep, “DELETE! DELETE!”
The ultimate revenge in this case is to return the favor and share on Facebook old photos of these same people, whether it’s an old high school friend who once sported red satin pants, a sequin tube top and a poufy 1980’s hairdo while engaged in a hotdog eating contest, or one of your kids (prior to puberty) when they went through that awkward, chubby, mouth-full-of-braces look in a bathing suit two sizes too small. Post these embarrassing old photos on Facebook, sit back and chuckle while the comments roll in on your wall.