• Susan Flanagan

Facebook Friends | The Kids are Alright | Jan. 3, 2012

Every generation has something it does that drives their parents crazy. It’s the natural evolution of things. Bring it on, I figured. There’s nothing my children could dole out that my own parents didn’t deal with. For a while there, I thought we were immune, thought maybe we were a genuine generation of hip parents.


This generation couldn’t shock us with their appearance. Hippy headbands, lumber jackets, nose rings, Mohawks, shoulder pads and spandex. Ridiculous bell bottoms have come and gone so often that trousers hanging half way down a teenage boy’s rear end are merely quaint. We can even handle a few extra tattoos and piercings: nice work, I say. Commendable rebellion.


And forget about reinventing music. We demonized our own parents for decades. From heavy metal to acid rock to punk, what was left to shock us? Once you’ve unleashed disco on the world, what more harm can be done? Rap was merely a temper tantrum. Lady Gaga seems tame after Alice Cooper.


Even if we don’t like our children’s music, we don’t have to listen. Due to the sheer bulk of the baby boomer bulge, classic rock stations keep playing our own music en masse. And our children don’t spend their money on massive speakers and sound systems; they buy itsy bitsy headphones. Game, set and match to the parents. Or so I thought.


Enter the gadget.


Hands up who did NOT receive an electronic gadget in their home this Christmas. Oh, how I envy you. I know they are not new. And I realize that instant communication is the greatest thing since the industrial revolution.


But iPods, texting phones, game controllers and social networks are doing to me what Led Zeppelin and Jim Morrison did to my parents. They are driving me off the deep end.

Facebook is evil.


How is it possible that a child can have 100 Facebook friends, but only a couple of true live in the flesh friends?


My friend says he can have a conversation with his daughter.


“She’ll look me straight in the eye, but her thumbs never stop. She’s communicating (with me), but part of her mind (is texting).”


Investing so much time in Facebook is affecting personal relationships. Groups of friends no longer interact verbally because they text or are on Facebook several times a day. There is no filter.


My daughter says: So and so went to Harry Potter World when she was in Florida.

I say: Oh when were you talking to her?


She says: I wasn’t. I saw it on Facebook.


How can it be that my niece found out about my father’s death via Facebook?


I hope to never have a Facebook account. The movie Trust with Clive Owen frightened me away from social networking which allows predators to move in for the kill.


Equally so, social networking can allow an innocent person’s reputation to get ruined because of something someone posted irresponsibly or inaccurately or maliciously on Facebook?


That being said, I am trying to embrace electronics. I really am.


No. 2 works at a pizza joint two nights a week. In my efforts to embrace social media and to say goodnight to a boy I brought in to this world, I break out my handheld cellular device and text him.


It costs me .15 cents to tap “Good night and God bless” into the itsy bitsy keyboard. I put the black ray emitting device under my pillow until I feel the familiar buzz.


“Good night, Mom,” comes the reply. Then I can go to sleep.


I`m still having trouble with shoot ‘em up video games that emulate warfare. One day I pulled in to a parking space in front of a video game store as a reward to my son who had had a particularly gruelling braces session. I gave my 14-year old the money to buy a game he wanted. He came back out of the store empty handed.


He had to be 18 to purchase. It was that violent, he needed me to go and buy it for him.


No way.


We left without the game.


The kids’ cursed social gadgetry has even infiltrated our professional world. It’s bad enough that we can have 200 emails waiting for us on a Monday morning. It takes two hours to go through, delete the wacko ones and reply to those that need to be replied to. Because there’s not an extra two hours tacked on the start of the work day, a lot of these emails go unanswered and every now and then a super duper serious one gets overlooked.


Now, on top of email, every company wants its employees to monitor Twitter and Facebook and MySpace. Entire corporations have sprung up to keep track of the vast terra-bytes of drivel generated hourly. Oh wait, MySpace is dying a painful death. My teenagers would roll their eyes if I asked how to get on MySpace. The word ‘hourly’ is probably obsolete also, everything happens ‘secondly’ now.


So our children have done it. They’ve found a way to demonstrate that we’re out of touch. They spend all their time and money on things that creep me out. They develop carpal tunnel syndrome doing so. They forgo food, fresh air and exercise to poke at buttons. They are driving me to drink.


Susan Flanagan is happy to report that all wills in her lawyer’s safe on Duckworth Street survived the fire. She hopes to tackle the topic of why bother with a will sometime soon.

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