[We’re still on the road, now in Maine, bivouacked on a glacial lake framed in evergreens and patrolled by loons. The lobster is cheap this year and so tonight we may have to have an epic lobster feast. I’m not going to blog, but I do happen to have stashed in my laptop bag a guest kit, from the juniormost child in our family, Shane Achenbach, who is 16 and perceives herself a social-media maven. She’s developed some rules of the road for parents who use social media. I’m going to post the first half of it, which deals with Facebook.]
The Rules of Parental Social Media Etiquette
By Shane Achenbach
Don’t friend your children. But if you really, really can’t help it and have a somewhat functional relationship with your children, then fine. Friend them. But try to resist looking at their activities unless they appear on your newsfeed.
And don’t comment on their activities! If your child uploads a picture of an inanimate object that is indicative of an inside joke that you are not a part of, do not comment. Explaining the joke ruins the joke, especially when you are explaining it to your mom. If your child uploads a picture of her friend, do not comment. And do not friend this person. This person does not know you. Does your child ever do this to you? No. He/she does not. Because it is weird.
If your child uploads an inappropriate picture, do not comment. Go upstairs to your child’s room and sit down with him/her in person. Tell him/her that no future employer or college admissions officer wants a slut and/or drunk (this depends on what the picture was of) on the premises. If done right, this will not turn your child against you enough to defriend you, but will just sufficiently scare him/her into never posting an inappropriate picture again.
Keep in mind that none of this applies to you if your child has been in Guatemala for the past six months and is practically unreachable. In this case you may comment on a picture more freely, but the whole inside joke thing is still not okay. Also, try to refrain from using a wall post to yell at your child for calling drunk from a shaky pay phone in a Guatemalan night club. Inbox him/her if you must, but try to keep in mind that unfortunately YOLO is still cool and he/she is probably just trying to make the most of his/her studies abroad.
Don’t be afraid to use Facebook to its full abilities. Comment on your friends’ photos. Chat, inbox, write on walls, create events, post pictures — it’s simple enough and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy the fun that Facebook can be. However, do not constantly post status updates. The fewer you post, the better they will be and the more they will count. I’m not even saying this because you are a parent and this would embarrass the child who so graciously accepted your friend request. I’m saying this because it’s annoying when anybody, no matter what age, posts constant status updates. This is what Twitter was made for.
I’ll let you in on a little-known fact of my generation: We teenagers are getting sick of Facebook. We’re movin’ on, and Facebook isn’t moving with us fast enough. I predict that Twitter will continue to shoot up in users and popularity in the next few years, and Facebook will do the opposite.