Why Parents Shouldn’t Facebook

For many of us, the rise in popularity of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter means we’re rubbing elbows with family members more often than for Sunday night dinner. Maybe it’s not so strange when it’s a cousin or sister whose lives we’re getting a unique, new peek into, but when our moms and dads start signing up, things have the potential to get awkward. Take, for example, the story of a 19-year-old girl who wrote to Slate’s resident advice columnist, Prudence, after she discovered that her 50-year-old mom had reconnected with an old boyfriend via Facebook.

I’m 19, and several months ago, my mom, 50, signed up for Facebook. She reconnected with high school friends, several from the band. One is a guy I’ll call “Tom.” Since she found Tom, I’ve been hearing about him a lot: his life, his job as a teacher, how he remembers their high school anecdotes. Eventually I became aware that they instant message every night, on some occasions until 3 a.m. Recently she revealed that there was going to be a “band reunion” and that Tom was attending. I made the mistake of getting into her e-mail and Facebook. There was a message he signed “Love,” he sends her song lyrics, she e-mailed a picture of him to her work account, and she cautioned him not to accept friend requests from me. She and I had a fight, and she told me they’re just friends and nothing is wrong. I told my dad about all this, and he said that he doesn’t think anything is wrong, either, that she’s just doing this to get attention, and that he’s confident it will end soon. I’m enraged at Tom, who is married with his own kids, and frustrated with my mother. I want to follow her to the band reunion and give this guy a broken leg. Please help me! —Confused Daughter

So, what do you guys think? Have you had a similar encounter yourselves? I’m inclined to think it’s no big deal, and none of the daughter’s business, but I’d be pretty irritated, too, if I discovered my mom getting flirty with an old boyfriend online. In fact, it might be exactly what I need to have happen to kick my internet-sleuthing habit for good. Oh, Mom, have you heard of Facebook yet? [via Slate]