I decided to momentarily break from my usual pastimes of staring at the wall and eating Chipotle to offer some much needed advice to moms on social media etiquette. This is a particularly pertinent issue now that Facebook has recently introduced love, angry, sad, thrilled, lugubrious, apprehensive, and ennui buttons, allowing mothers an even greater opportunity to embarrass their sons and daughters on the internet. Without further ado…
- Diversify your social media portfolio.
If you ask your son or daughter what his social media usage looks like (assuming you’re ever able to get ahold of him or her), they will likely tell you that their internet life is compartmentalized. His or her table might look something like this:
|Sharing articles, finding roommates, chatting with friends|
|Pictures of food I’ve eaten with pretty filters, too many hashtags|
|Random thoughts, attempts at sounding like I understand politics, trying to get famous people to acknowledge my existence|
|Finding articles to share on Facebook, arguing with strangers, looking at pictures of cats, politics|
|Somebody hire me please, I even wore a suit once, here’s photo evidence|
|Snapchat||I hope my mom doesn’t see this|
|MySpace||I’m trapped in 2004 please send help they’re playing Usher on repeat|
In contrast, many mothers’ table would look like this:
|Sharing thoughts, sharing articles, bragging about my son, trying to locate my son, posting vacation pictures, connecting with old friends, connecting with my son’s old friends, pulverizing the like button, proving that I know what emojis and memes are, inspirational quotes, self-publishing papers on iterated game theory, disproving other mothers’ self-published papers on iterated game theory, forgetting my password, selfies, other peoples’ selfies, other peoples’ childrens’ selfies, why I’m not voting for Trump|
I don’t think that mothers have an inherently stronger desire to share their lives – it’s just that they’re less discriminatory with regards to what they share and with whom. The problem is also that everything you share on Facebook goes to… well… everybody. Sometimes, posts from friends of friends even show up on your news feed just because one of your friends “liked” it. By breaking your social media life up and putting it on a few platforms, you can avoid Facebook overload and better target your posts to the people who care most about them.
Snapchat, for example, is a platform where you send pictures and videos that disappear within a few seconds to friends. As a result, people tend to use Snapchat to communicate with closer friends – the ones that care about your mundane day-to-day activities or are going to laugh at your groan-worthy captions.
Instagram and Twitter allow you to use hashtags to help you connect with people with similar interests. If you like to cook, for instance, you can use cooking-related hashtags to share pictures of meals you’ve made. Or if you’re watching a debate, you can make fun of your least-favorite candidates using the debate hashtag.
If you bribe your son or daughter, they might even be willing to help you set up some non-Facebook accounts for you. No guarantees, though.
- Pretend that you’re not stalking them.
Facebook is amazing because it allows us all to unleash our creepy inner-voyeur without letting anybody else knowing that we’re doing so. Don’t blow this opportunity. That picture of your son with the cute girl or guy? Cross your fingers and say a prayer on his behalf (if you’re into that sort of thing) but for the love of G-d, don’t bring it up to him! He looks a little bit too drunk at a college party? I know it’s hard, but bite your tongue.
Accepting a mother’s friend request is a tremendous display of trust. Prove that you deserve it by being a responsible Facebook denizen.
- When in doubt, ask permission… in person!
Yes, I understand how tempting it is to just hit the “Add Friend” button on his childhood best friend or girlfriend’s profile. There’s a reason Mark Zuckerberg’s a billionaire after all, as his mother would proudly tell you. If you want to be respectful of your son’s boundaries, it’s important to ask him how he feels about your social media activity. And when in doubt, err on the side of caution.
- Remember: you don’t have to be Facebook friends to be real friends
It’s okay if your kid doesn’t want to be friends with you or puts you on a limited profile so that you can’t see everything he or she posts. While I’ve happily unfriended plenty of kids from high school that I’m no longer friends with, I’m stuck with you, mom. I couldn’t even (metaphorically) unfriend you in real life, no matter how hard I try. And believe me, I’ve tried. Remember high school?
You will always be part of my life, even if I don’t necessarily want you to bear witness to every single moment of it. Let’s be honest – aren’t you glad there was no Facebook 30 years ago to document every silly or embarrassing thing you did from 18-24?
And my final piece of advice: maybe send him a letter every once in a while (and if you want him to actually read it, throw in a couple of bucks or a Chipotle gift card). After all, who doesn’t like receiving snail mail in this age of social media?