If you ask me, social networking is something that is done at cocktail parties! But a new internet site called Facebook has turned that concept on its head. And wouldn’t you know, it’s kids who are leading the phenomenon.
Case in point: I first heard of Facebook a few months ago, when my older daughter, Sophie, got in trouble for using it to harass some of the less popular girls in her grade. I didn’t completely understand all the jargon the principal used, but from what I understand, Sophie tracked down some pictures of fat people’s naked bodies, probably from something called a Photoshop, and added the girls’ heads to the top. I have to admit it sounded pretty funny to me—I love those things you stand behind at the carnival—but you had better believe that I hid my smirk in the principal’s office. And back at home, I doled out what Sophie surely deemed a “cruel and unusual” punishment: No TV for three weeks.
But when the Final Edition asked me to write this column on “tech” and parenting, the incident with the unpopular girls popped into my mind and I realized I would have to get with the program. The Facebook program, that is—I’d have to join it.
I asked Sophie and her younger brother, Aidan, to help me set up a Facebook, but they said they were too busy on their computers doing research for school, so I invited our little next-door neighbor, Eliot, over to help me out. Let’s be honest, Eliot kind of reminds me of the Facebook President, Mark Zuckerman—he’s always skulking around, inside his house, on the computer. But in that case, what better person to help me out? (Plus, who knows, maybe one day Eliot will be a millionaire too.) Eliot was a lot more gracious than a few kids I could name around here—especially once I promised him that if he did me this favor, they might reconsider the nickname they’ve given him, which is unprintable in this publication. He came right over and we entered the web, then navigated the browser to www.facebook.com. What seemed like seconds later, I was Missy Morrison. My name in real life, it was also my Facebook name.
Before I get ahead of myself, a note for the less technologically inclined: Facebook is like a gigantic high school yearbook, but there are way more pictures of every person and no nasty principal telling you what you can put on your page. Plus, it’s all on your computer (except for what I assume is a physical farming component, probably out in California). According to my research, I’m not alone on Facebook: Tons of moms hang out in this virtual space, and they can actually “friend” their kids. It’s like being a policewoman or a spy. Granted, your kids have to accept your friendship, but I found their reluctance faded when I paid them. If you ask me, a couple hundo is worth it for a little peace of mind.
Best of all, it’s not just that you can friend people on Facebook: They, I learned, can friend you as well. Let me give you one example of how this can work. A girl I went to high school with—let’s call her Megan Jessup, which is the name she took after she got married—wasn’t always the nicest. After my high school boyfriend and I broke up, she began dating him, and while I think that this mostly consisted of “sucking his cock,” if you get what I mean, it really wasn’t a great feeling for me. So when Megan Jessup computer asked me to be her Facebook friend, along with a cute message, “Think we can put the past behind us 30 years later? :) Would love to know what you’ve been up to!”, I knew exactly what to do.
I called Sophie over to the computer. My daughter and I sat next to each other in the glow of the computer screen—not so different, I suddenly realized, from cave mothers and daughters sitting around a campfire millions of years ago—and began the process of internet gluing Megan Jessup’s head onto the body of a naked hermaphrodite amputee. We then tagged Megan in the picture and posted it on her wall (virtual). I get a giggle to imagine her children seeing it, but the best part for me was seeing my daughter’s eyes light up as we spent time together. I even said it was okay for her to start watching TV again, but she joked that she’d been watching it on Hula Hoop all along. “Someone’s been drinking too many wine coolers.” She just smiled and grabbed us another.
Facebook has now become a part of my daily routine; in fact, I can’t imagine life without it, and will never have to, now that a little birdie has told me you can create fake accounts once your first one is suspended.
Like mother, like daughter (and son): The other night, Sophie and Aidan were madly typing away on their phones, which, I swear, they use like tiny portable computers.
“Are you guys sexting?” I asked. (Another term I learned from the principal—but that’s a column for another time.)
“No, Mom.” Sophie rolled her eyes. “We’re just on Facebook.” Fine, but does it have to be at the dinner table?
Does it? Is that where internet rays work the best?