(First published Weekend, November 6-8, 2009)
For years my parents have yearned to know every little thing about their grandkids lives. However, phone calls were unproductive. “Yes, yes, no. Bye grandma.” Emails were even shorter. “Luv u 2.” So recently, I suggested my mom (not allowed to reveal age) get a Facebook account. Sooner than you can say, “Grandma would like to add you as a friend on Facebook,” grandkids were actually leaving their rooms and asking, “Do I have to add grandma on Facebook?” My siblings and I shrugged. The kids reluctantly added grandma.
Briefly, the thought fluttered through their minds that all those pictures showing 14 year olds hanging out in the park and getting into “mischief,” 17-year-old band members
performing in their underwear and university students attending thousands of beer-soaked parties might be unwise. However, that was soon forgotten because grandma didn’t download a picture, so she seemed and, in fact, was faceless. But she lurked.
I instructed her early on not to post on anyone’swall (Stuff like —Shouldn’t you be doing your homework instead of posing with those scantily clad girls?) And she’s been taking my advice. “I love it honey — it’s like being a fly on the wall. What is a hook-up, anyway?” Of course, it’s taken over her life. My dad emails me, “Well, this Facebook is really something — your mother loves it.” I imagine him bravely pacing around the house wondering where his next meal is coming from. It won’t be from grandma, whose eyes are bugged out as she scans through pictures of her granddaughter’s 20th birthday party. (“I should be doing the dishes, but I’d rather come in and check Facebook to see what’s going on.”) It certainly provides a different view of her grandkids, but rather than tut-tutting she’s keeping (grand) mum. Instead of being sucked in by those cherubic faces smiling in fake innocence across the Christmas dinner table, her new Facebook X-ray vision shows them to be the hellions they really are. Christmas stockings are more likely to be stuffed with hookah pipes, fake ID and gift certificates to rehab (for the older ones) this year rather than the traditional gloves and scarves. But she’s not complaining.
That’s because she’s hit the (grand) motherlode.