What Happened When My 71-Year-Old Mom Joined Facebook

by Danielle Silverstein
Danielle Silverstein

Growing up, having a quirky mom was always a mixed bag. My mom — aka, Linda — did questionable things like take me to see my first R-rated movie at the ripe old age of three. I’ll never forget seeing The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas in the theater, looking around to notice there was not another child in sight. I loved every second of it, and wouldn’t change experiences like that for the world.

On the other hand, Linda also did things like exercise in high heeled shoes, tell us and our friends to drink soda in the morning if the house was low on milk, because the dog loved milk and she didn’t want him to be disappointed. When I finally went off to college, she would leave long, drawn-out messages on my very public answering machine about the latest philosophical teachings of her favorites gurus, the ladies of The View. But nothing could really prepare me for what would happen once Linda decided that it was time to get caught up with the world of modern technology and, wait for it…join Facebook.

Before I tell you about my mom’s struggle — or should I say, how the rest of us are struggling now that my mom has been bitten by the “social media bug” — it’s important to point out that, modern technology aside, my mom is really smart. She’s a writer, a teacher, an avid reader, and can more than hold her own in a heated discussion on current politics. She just cannot, for the life of her, figure out how to get a handle on this crazy thing called “the Internet.”

Having a parent discover, at the age of 71, after spending much of her life as a SAHM, that she now has a platform in which to share all of her own off-beat opinions, ideas and personality traits with anyone who will listen is a scary concept to say the least. Figuring out the latest technology is difficult for almost anyone — even someone of my generation who has been using a cell phone since college. So, we can all understand how, for someone of an older generation who once made calls from one landline to another via operator, figuring out modern devices is like one big volcanic science experiment waiting to erupt, and it will eventually inevitably spray every innocent victim in its midst with the messy remnants of a somewhat catastrophic trial and error situation.

For many, 2017 will be notoriously written in history as the year Donald Trump became president. In my family, it will be begrudgingly remembered as the year that Linda became the world’s first official Facebook overachiever. Since that day, she has shared roughly 4,376,932 images of birds, rainbows, and cute puppies. When my siblings and I had our first intervention, telling her our concerns about her overuse of the “share” button, Linda just responded, “Oh, my followers would be so upset if I didn’t pass on all the things that bring me joy.”

Linda, unfortunately for her children, had discovered some sort of calling. We could almost see the halo of importance she now possessed, as she channeled her inner-Sally Field, proclaiming, “They like me….they really like me.”

As if my brother, sister, and I weren’t lucky enough to have our mom do things like wish a “Happy Birthday to her dear friend, Bernice” on a completely random person’s wall, or leave a comment under one of our friend’s pictures that “their mom looks great,” when it was actually their sister, I would say we’ve been most blessed that Linda loves nothing more than to thoroughly narrate what is happening in any picture we post, and follow that narration with at least a a half-dozen completely non-related emojis of her random choosing.

If I put up a picture of my son playing the drums, you can bet money she’s going to leave a comment explaining to all my facebook followers, “That’s my grandson, Ean, playing the drums. Ean is 9-years-old. He loves football, pizza, and once held a tarantula at camp (bicycle, panda, ocean wave, fire truck, rain cloud).” An image that was supposed to just capture of a brief moment in time becomes a drawn out historical-documentary.

She means well…she loves her family and wants to share her pride and gratefulness with the world. And, whether you’re interested or not, if you follow Linda or her relatives, you’ve just been held temporarily hostage to her random brainstorming and unfiltered stream-of-consciousness. To say the least, my mom’s idiosyncricies have followed me out of the real life realm and into the virtual world.

But I also really have to give credit to my mom and all the “Lindas” of her generation who are trying so hard to figure out all this madness that is advancing faster than the speed of sound. Honestly, I’m glad my mom wasn’t too intimidated to try to keep up with the world around her. As she gets older and my siblings and I get more concerned about her well-being, she still gets to participate in experiences, but from the safety and comfort of her own home. It’s less time my siblings and I have to worry about her getting hurt by venturing into the outside world, and her destruction can be contained to the less physically dangerous cyber-space.

Mom, keep up the good work. If nothing else, you’re keeping the world entertained, one incorrectly-posted comment at a time.