OPINION: Facebook. What fun it was till our parents joined. Everyone knew how to behave, sort of. I mean, they knew what would make them look seriously uncool. Like "liking" every single post by the same person. Bit desperate.
Parents, though? They're on that "like" function like it's a one-armed bandit and a gambling addiction runs in the family.
There used to be a fine art to bragging, according to my grandma.
"Auntie so-and-so is always bragging about her grandchildren," she'd complain.
"Now don't think that I don't brag about you," she'd say, reassuringly. "But I brag in a subtle way, not obviously, like her."
Baby Boomers scrapped subtle. For them, Facebook has eliminated the need to think up elaborate ways to work in how great your progeny are. The promotion. The engagement to the heart specialist. The cuteness of the chubby cheeks.
Remember when we could post pictures of a friend without her mother commenting what a stunner she was every single time?
And forget about sharing a quip by a three-year-old. Unless you brace yourself for both grandmothers to try to out-gush each other about the genius of the kid.
In their defence, some of this behaviour might just be due to technological cluenessness. Like the overly keen nana who downloads pictures from her kids' pages, reposts them and tags everyone in it again. Or the dad who's never heard of right click and save. "Send this one to me!!!!" he'll comment.
But some of them are very with-it technologically. They're the ones who post very helpful warnings about how Facebook is going to start charging for membership next month and we all have to be up in arms about it. We couldn't survive in cyberspace without them.
And there's always the auntie who feels the need to reply to Every. Single. Post.
The uncle who can turn the most innocent of status updates into the opportunity for a lecture.
The passive aggressive empty nester who has to remind her adult daughter that she hasn't called home in 12 days.
The overeager sharer of embarrassing teenage pics.
The concerned conservative who lectures his adult son about his language and that endorsement for the Greens.
Maybe it's not their fault. Maybe the private message function has never been explained to them.
But hey, all this is kind of fun when your mum brags about your promotion or your incredibly thoughtful birthday gift on your behalf. You can even forgive them for learning from Facebook the habit of typing "huh", followed by five question marks, even though they taught you that both saying "huh" and yelling were impolite.
And it's fun in that voyeuristic way that Facebook is all about. Before, we had to guess what went on in other people's families. Now we can grab the popcorn and sit back.
Welcome to the family feud.
Got a suggestion for the Modern Manners team? Email features editor Deborah Sloan on firstname.lastname@example.org or write her c/- The Waikato Times, Private Bag 3086, Waikato Mail Centre, Hamilton 3240.
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