My mum is my biggest fan. She is my absolute biggest cheerleader. The first person to watch my IG stories (because she somehow worked out that she can receive notifications of when I post anything…) and the first person to message me every single morning when I wake up. But, her being of the Baby Boomer Generation, and me being a millennial, have some very differing opinions and outlooks, especially when it comes to social media.
When I finally accepted my mums friend request on FB, it was only a matter of mere weeks before I had to sternly warn her that she was on the cusp of being ‘un-friended’. ‘Why!?’ she demanded, looking a bit hurt. I had to tell her that the main reason for the potential unfriending was her instant comments under pictures and status updates, mere seconds after anything I posted. For example, comments like “You are just so gorgeous xx” and “My beautiful baby girl” under new profile pics. EMBARRASSING. I had to remind her that she is biased and all mothers think the sun shines out of their offspring’s ass, but it isn’t cool to publicly declare it on FB.
As social media evolved, I stopped using FB as much and veered towards instagram. I’d fill my mum in on gossip from time to time, like “I saw that <insert name of person I was creeping> has a new gf.” My mum would then ask me how I could find this out; if I wasn’t their ‘friend’ then how could I see their pictures? It was difficult to explain the concept of creeping to my mum, and showing her how you could view someone’s profile was a risky business. “DO NOT WHATEVER THE HELL YOU DO, TOUCH THE SCREEN OR TAP IT – IT WILL ‘LIKE’ THE PICTURE.” “But I can’t see it very well… how do you make it bigger? Can you z…o..o… oh… why is there a love heart now? Pam, it just did a heart…!!”
It was only a matter of time before my mum herself signed up to Instagram (with a cat related username no less). “Teach me how it works. How do I do the filter thingy?” I showed my mum multiple times, but it took her ages to get the hang of it. Most of her photos were posted without any captions under them, and she has definitely never used a hashtag in her life. But of course, just as my mum was getting to grips with it, they only went and added IG stories with their latest update, which threw my mum off-course all over again.
Then there’s the parental/friend/offspring crossover. My mum has befriended the majority of my friends on facebook, and vice versa, and her friends frequently enjoy posting anything airline related to my wall, as well as forwarding chain mails to me. One of my besties has tendency to post really dark art and depressing songs on her feed, which my mum kindly counteracts by posting daily 80’s music videos on her wall with quotes like ‘listen to this nice cheery song!’. It’s honestly so endearing that it makes my heart swell. But then there’s the same friend who messaged me, “Sometimes I forget your mum watches my stories on IG. She gave me into trouble for posting that meme about masturbating.” Awkward, right? So… let’s move on.
The thing about having your mum on every form of social media, is that she basically has an entire photo album of you available to hand should she encounter any potential male suitors. My mum was in hospital, and was trying to set me up with the ‘handsome young’ doctor that was looking after her. He’d be just doing his job and my mum would be telling him all about me, and the lady in the opposite bed, overhearing this, began talking about her two handsome sons who were ‘both single and eligible bachelors, around the same age as me!’. Things became very awkward at visiting time when I’d have to sit outside the ward with the aforementioned bachelors, none of us the slightest bit interested in being set up with one another.
“I don’t understand why your generation use this Bumble Bee app thingy or Tinder. Isn’t tinder for sex?” My mum glanced sideways as she lowered her voice to make sure noone overheard. Fast forward one hour, and my mum is sitting on the sofa with my flatmate swiping on her behalf. “This is so much fun!!! No. He doesn’t look kind. This one is too hairy. Too old for you!” Then it’d be, “Oh he looks lovely!” as she’d insist my flatmate swipe right on some guy that looked like a cross between a Labrador and that guy from Dawson’s Creek. Thank God my mum is not picking my future husband is all I’ll say!
Then when you finally meet someone, and causally disclose the information to your mum, you’re met with the warning of, ‘Don’t tell anyone you met him on that Bee app.’ Being me, I am not telling anyone I’ve even met someone anyway – I mean, what happens if it all goes Pete Tong?
“I’m just seeing him anyway.” I explain to my mum, when I ask her not to tell anyone. “So is he your boyfriend then?” She asks with a look of confusion. “No, mum. We are just dating.” I wait for the lightbulb to turn on, some flicker of understanding, but it doesn’t. “But, that means he’s your boyfriend. I mean, you do spend a lot of time together… Are you dating other people?” I assure her, that no. Just this one. She smiles, “See! So he is your boyfriend.” as if that settles it. And from that moment on, you have to hope to God that that guy you’ve been dating for a month doesn’t see your message previews from your mum lighting up your home screen with the word ‘boyfriend’. Baby Boomers and Millennials have vastly opposing representations of relationships, and so, he is known as my ‘male companion of non specific description’.
My mum also likes to use whatsapp. She sends me emojis, the odd GIF here and there, and also links to dresses she thinks I’d look good in. “This would look stunning on you!”. It’s usually some kind of garment that I would never wear because one – I do not do body con and two – it’s just absolutely not something that I’d wear. Ever. (On occasions she does get it so right though! And she is amazing at buying me clothes). It was also a bit of a shock to her when I turned off my ‘blue ticks’. “Why can’t I see when you have read my messages anymore? The ticks just stay grey. I think there’s something wrong with my phone…” Explaining to my mum that I just don’t want people to know when I have read their messages, so that I can reply to them in my own time was lost on her. So now, she just periodically checks our Whatsapp conversation to see when I am displayed as ‘online’, like an iPhone ninja, waiting to fire messages to me.
I could go on and on, about mums and our generational differences, but it’d probably turn into a book, but just know that you aren’t the only victim of having your mum on your social media, and one day, we will be doing the same back to our children, and I can’t wait to embarrass them for laughs already.