In the real world, we have universal rules about friendships. Teens have teens for friends. They giggle and fess up secrets behind locked doors. Dads and moms may not enter the room either as participants or as hangers-on. But in the lounge called Facebook, friendships are redefined: the walls we’d normally put up–of age, attitude, relationship and unfamiliarity–crumble. Which is why a face-off is erupting in our living room.
“Dad, WHY are you still trying to friend me?” asks our 18-year-old, rolling her eyes. For the last year, dad’s been asking to be privy to her world and she has repeatedly been ignoring him. In the meantime, dad has forged over 989 friendships, reunited with classmates from 45 years ago, reconnected with retired company folks he hasn’t met in years, befriended third cousins once removed and chatted up women with whom, in real life, he’s only on “hi and bye” terms. For dad, Facebook has offered a level playing field. Somehow, our daughter can’t level with that.
“Dad, you don’t know that lady well. How can you, like, chat with her like you’re on chatty terms with her?” Her 53-year-old dad shrugs. He says he likes to know what others, including ladies he doesn’t meet that often, are up to. “And, hey, as I keep telling you, my company’s Senior VPs are on it too. This thing is huge. It’s the next wave!” he says.
Our daughter doesn’t disagree with that but, really, it’s quite uncool when your own dad’s trying to pry and poke into your playing field to see things you wouldn’t ever want him to see.
So Dad tried the back door to get to his daughter: he friended our daughter’s best friend who, gladly, friended him back. My husband thought that would finally convince his daughter that he was indeed "friendable". Nope.
A few weeks ago, our daughter pushes open the door to my room, her face a canvas of exasperation. “Now Grandpa’s trying to friend me. What’s the world coming to? Why’s he acting like his son?”
Seconds later we hear a chuckle in the adjacent room. Dad, who has access to grandpa’s account, is down to his last trick in the book.