Imagine for a moment that your mother suffers from severe mood swings and an inability to discern appropriate behaviour from inappropriate behaviour, both in public and in private. Consider also that she has frequent and embarrassing public outbursts and is also 100% unpredictable with no end to the possible triggers that may randomly set her off. Now imagine that this mother, who has subjected you to this particular brand of crazy throughout your entire life, has just discovered Facebook and has sent you a friend request… what do you do?
This is the particular quandary my sisters and I found ourselves in just a couple of years ago and deciding how to handle this was definitely not easy.
We have endless experience in dealing with our mother and her dysfunctions and have even worked out a UPA (usual plan of action) just for her. Our first manoeuver is always avoidance. To this end, all three of us proclaimed for a month or so that we had not received her request and she should try sending it again and for a while this worked. However, she eventually recognized this as the stall tactic it was and began harassing us to accept her request.
Hoping to avoid having to make an actually decision in this matter, we went to the next technique in our playbook, which was another stalling method and involved the good old, ‘I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook, but I promise I will do it later.’, which bought us another small reprieve. It didn’t take long though before she was on to us and by this point, we had no other option than to make a decision and suffer the consequences. Unfortunately, with our mother, there are always consequences to every action and they can be catastrophic and haunt you for the rest of your life, no matter what you choose to do, thus making an already difficult choice that much worse.
We quickly reviewed our options, 1) accept the request in the hopes of preventing the hellfire and brimstone that will most assuredly rain down on us for years to come if we don’t; 2) deny the request to save ourselves the endless embarrassment of having one of her eruptions emblazoned upon our Facebook page for everyone to enjoy; or 3) pack up our belongings and move to an address unknown, never to be seen or heard from again.
My first choice was option three, but I sincerely doubted my husband would agree this was the best solution, so I had to choose something more realistic. Our younger sister went with option two, but since she still lives at home, her excuse for doing so, which was, ‘I see you every day anyways, so you don’t need to be my Facebook friend.’ seemed plausible enough.
Unfortunately, both my older sister and I eventually went with option one, believing we could control what our mother could and could not see through our Facebook restrictions and prevent any of her meltdowns or ‘soap box’ speeches. For the most part, this was a great plan as we are quite well versed in the list of things that will trigger an outburst from her. However, despite our expansive knowledge, there is always the potential for a seemingly harmless thing to send her over the edge and cause an unforeseen eruption.
There have been a few instances of embarrassment over the past couple of years despite our ever watchful eyes and the most noteworthy events tend to occur when our mother learns how to do something new on Facebook, such as sharing her Facebook friends photos on her own Facebook page.
Normally sharing someone else’s photo is not an issue if you have their permission, but our mother tends to steal other people’s family photos and then post them to her page as her own. She then details, to the general public, the names, ages and family relationship of all the people in the photo and she does this all without asking permission from the owner of the photos first.
We have had several discussions with our mother about this and have explained why this is not appropriate Facebook etiquette and despite these discussions, she continues to do this and then wonders why she gets blocked from everyone’s Facebook photo albums. Once she has been blocked from an album, she then becomes angry and says that the person she stole the pictures from is, ‘just plain rude and how dare they block me from their photos’. The irony of her statement seems lost on her though as this continues to happen until she has exploited and been blocked from everyone’s photo albums.
Our mother also has a tendency to post negative remarks on her friends excited or happy postings, such as when someone gets flowers or their husbands take them on a trip, etc. Her posts on these are usually along the lines of, ‘I wonder why he’s feeling guilty’ or ‘what does he want that he’s buying you flowers’. This latter comment was actually made on my own post showing a picture of the flowers my husband sent me the other week and I quickly deleted it.
Along with the picture thievery and negative comments, our mother also posts inappropriate comments on other people’s posts that often garner their scorn and that of any other unsuspecting readers that happen across them. In the past year our mother has received at least three complaints, that we actually know of, from Facebook about inappropriate remarks that people have taken offense to and that she has been requested to remove. There may actually be more of these, but she is often untruthful, so there are likely far more than just three.
You never know what can set her off and something seemingly harmless can quickly turn into a ‘grab bag of fun’ should she be in a mood. This is exactly what happened a couple of weeks ago when my older sister posted something about the Olympics and our aunt, our mothers wealthy, retired, older sister commented on the post.
We are still not entirely sure what caused this eruption and it is likely we will never find out, but I have included a screenshot below of the conversation that ensued for you to enjoy. I am hoping this may help other people make an informed decision about accepting your own mothers friend request on Facebook or if perhaps it’s just best to change your name and go live in the forest instead.
The names and pictures have been removed to protect the innocent and unsuspecting.