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At first it was kinda cute, like dogs that wear sweaters or people that let their annoying little children record their voicemail message. But now the madness has got to end. I’m talking about old people on Facebook.
A few Saturdays ago, I was lounging around my friend’s house, looking at semi-scandalous party pictures of girls I think I knew at one time in my life, when what should appear in my News Feed but:
[Aaron's Mom] added you as a friend on Facebook.
I nearly spat my beer onto my laptop. Fortunately, Sam’s Imperial Pilsner was a brew I could not afford to waste even an ounce of. Part of their “Extreme Beer” line–along with Utopias and Chocolate Bock to name two–this one totally fits their claim to be “an intense hop experience.” Smooth and creamy, with only the most mild of bitterness, this beer packs a wallop, and was impressively able to go (somewhat) toe-to-toe with the legendarily overpowering J.W. Lees Harvest. It reminded me a bit of Stone’s Ruination DIPA, and is definitely a can’t miss if you’re luckily enough to score some.
Predictably, I ignored my mother’s friend request. She probably hears enough bad shit about me through the old-fashioned rumor mill, no need for her to have high-speed technological access to the tragicomedy that is my besotted life. I quickly perused her profile. She’s a teacher, a 56-year-old AP Calculus high school teacher from suburban Oklahoma City to be exact, and I really can’t think of a person that Facebook is less meant for.
A few hours later, while out at the bar, I checked my e-mail on my phone and saw one come up from her:
“Did you get my friend request?”
I ignored it.
The next morning, a text from her regarding the same topic. This was getting ridiculous. I filled my younger sister in on the happenings. I was amused but my sister, a much brassier person than even me, wanted to dike this dam before truly bad things started happening. She immediately e-mailed our mom:
“Facebook is not for adults. No one wants their mom at the party.”
She also noted that a friend’s mother–a women cringingly notorious for trying to be a “cool” mom–was on Facebook, hoping to shame our mother into realizing the kind of fiftysomething that would use social networking.
I thought the matter would be over by now, my mom realizing her folly. We all sometimes get involved in ventures not fully realizing the implications. Heck, I accidentally, and briefly, found myself in a dance club over the weekend. Perhaps my mother had made a mistake like all of us are prone to do. She saw a piece on Facebook on “20/20,” she read an article about it in Time, she overheard a few of her pupils discussing it, and thought, “Cool, I should join, everyone’s doing it!”
On Sunday, I was out at the bar watching some football. I got a call. It was mom. I rarely answer my phone no matter who calls and most people have learned to text me, but since I was drunk and feeling good, I decided to pick up. Immediately she launched into me.
“Why aren’t you accepting my friend request?”
I explained to her that Facebook is not for adults.
“Aren’t you an ‘adult?’” she patronizingly wondered.
I explained that, yes, according to the semantics of “anyone-older-than-18-years-of-age” is an adult, than I am most assuredly one, eleven years over, in fact. But, though I may be an adult, I’m not exactly a “grown up.” Most people in New York City aren’t. That’s one of the reasons we live here.
New York City is all about arrested development. Although, I don’t exactly like that condescending term. The development of adults in New York isn’t “arrested,” we simply wish to develop in a more fun, less responsible way, let us say. We care about the hedonistic pleasures in life. Our only responsibilities are to make money and have fun, life is but a dream.
Whereas, I frequently find myself hanging out in the city with people as young as eighteen and as old as their mid-fifties, and despite the vast age difference, these people are just like me. They want entertainment, excitement, booze, perhaps drugs, women, men, sex, and fun. Not kids and houses and mortgages and chain restaurant dining. I’m far more similar to an eighteen-year-old or a fifty-five-year-old from New York than I am to 99% of my high school class, most now living in the Oklahoma suburbs, married and raising kids. That life is alien to me, and my existence is surely foreign to them. They are grown ups, and I am a twenty-nine-year-old child.
An “old” person from New York City is not technically an old person and there’s nothing weird about them being on Facebook. Meanwhile, most of the people I went to high school with seem just as out of place on Facebook as my mom as they simply use the service as a conduit to proudly display to the world countless pictures of their ugly kids.
I explained this to my mom and she continued trying to break me down:
“You don’t have anything bad on your page, do you?”
“So what’s the big deal? I don’t even care what’s on there. I just want to see pictures of you, be a part of your life.”
“Then accept my friendship, am I not your friend?”
“Sure you’re my friend, but I don’t want you tagging along on dates with me either. Maybe you want to sit in the corner of the room watching next time I take a girl to bed?”
Finally, perhaps because I wanted to get back to the football game and buffalo wings, perhaps because I was in a fairly jovial mood, my mother sweet-talked me into accepting her friend request. I guess I can be easily manipulated when I’m drunk.
Before accepting though, my more computer-savvy sister showed me how to make my profile “limited” so, in theory, my mother would only be able to see the most bare minimum of information on my page.
By the next day, my News Feed was getting pelted with an enfilade of Facebook tomfoolery from my mother.
[Aaron's Mom] has given [One of her old lady friends] a Bumper Sticker!
[Aaron's Mom] has thrown a snowball at you!
[Aaron's Mom] has sent you a Ninja Request!
What is it about Facebook that seems to infantilize everyone?!
Now look, I’m not gonna be all supercilious and act like I only use Facebook for mature, productive purposes. I don’t. That’s inately impossible. I use it for checking out girls I first met while drunk before deciding whether to e-mail them, for making fun of fat former classmates and the ugly boyfriends of my exes, and for making myself feel good as my friend numbers get higher. (Yes, I’m am a little, little man).
But I never waste my time using all these bullshit apps that I wouldn’t have thought cool even back when I was nine years old! The internet wasn’t even around then and I still wouldn’t have found this garbage cool!
[Aaron's Dad] added you as a friend on Facebook.
[Aaron's Dad] is now friends with [Aaron's friend].
[Aaron's Dad] is now friends with [another of Aaron's friend].
[Aaron's Dad] is now friends with [yet another of Aaron's friend].
I had had enough. Befriending my friends! This was getting ridiculous. Maybe I should call up my dad’s sixty-year-old co-worker friends and see if they want to go drinking with me. Turn about is fair play, eh?
I started punching out an e-mail cc’ing my mother, father, and sister. Before I could even hit send though, a status update came up on my News Feed.
[Aaron's Mom] is Facebook chatting with [Aaron's Dad] even though they’re sitting in the same room together. Pretty funny, right???
I told my parent they were embarrassing themselves and the family. By friend requesting my friends they were putting them between a rock and a hard place. Either accept the old fart’s request and now have fifty-seven-year-olds lurking on their page, or be a dick and turn them down. Something they surely wished to do but didn’t since my friends are nicer than me.
My mother began crying. She said I was crazy. Yeah, I was the crazy one. Not the old lady getting caught up in the Facebook world like some junior high pop tart. She wailed about how much fun she had had in the twenty-four hours she had been on Facebook, locating some old boring friends, giving her teacher cohorts bumper stickers, seeing the lives my old babysitters had crafted, catching up with some distant relatives.
I let sleeping dogs lie. Briefly.
Then, over Christmas, my sister went back to Oklahoma while I stayed in New York. Quickly, my sister called me, it was worse than we had even suspected. Apparently my dad, a consummate snoop worse than a stereotypical yenta, had his laptop open all day long goofing around on Facebook and looking at people. Meanwhile, my mother had somehow, despite the limited profile setting, downloaded all the pictures from profile onto her computer, and was even displaying them as a screen saver. She was also still furious at my sister for refusing to be her Facebook friend.
Finally, things came to a head and my sister broke my mother down in a huge yelling fight. My mother locked herself in her room and sent a lengthy mass e-mail to me and my sisters:
“I realize now that you really never wanted me to be one of your friends…So to make you happier, I should probably remove you from my friend list. I don’t want to be accused of stalking my kids, just because I want to be in their lives. So confirm that you wish me to do that, and I will. I don’t plan to be a friend of someone who wants me blocked and doesn’t trust me.”
So now my parents are no longer my “friends” but countless other adults I’ve known over the years keep sending me requests. Many of my friends have professed that their parents too have joined Facebook in the past few weeks and are now bothering them in a similar fashion.
I think Facebook has reached a tipping point of annoyance. I don’t know, I guess we really need a Wrinkly Facebook for true adults to spend their time and not annoy me. I liked it better when I could just post drunken pictures of myself and status update concerning my sobriety without immediate comment from my 2nd grade teacher and my great-aunt.