SHE started it. It wasn’t my fault. A direct message to my Twitter inbox and there it was. Unfollowed.
My daughter-in-law-to-be had cut me off, just like that. In the past few weeks, she had instigated a break-up with my youngest son and the whole social media ball of string unravelled. It was very un-social.
The very least I could do was to immediately unfriend her on Facebook. After all, hadn’t I written a Merry Christmas post on her wall and she didn’t respond? So, unfriended; and that was that. She wouldn’t even know. It’s not like she checks her Facebook page every day.
After a few days and more break-up heartache for my son, I blocked my tweets to her as well. Cut her off with a mouse click. It felt good, but left me wondering where the line in the sand is drawn when it comes to social media with your children and their friends.
But when your kids’ friends who you dragged along to school summer holidays up the coast for the past five years want to be friends with you on Facebook, it’s flattering.
After all, weren’t these boys also my own “other sons” by default?
We’d shared many weeks and years, making glorious memories on the beach, having barbecues; and I taught half of them to cook and drive. I’ve watched them grow from gawky Year 8 schoolboys to uni graduates, still grinning with pleasure when they meet me unexpectedly, out and about.
“Mrs B!” they exclaim, and scoop me into their manly arms for a hug.
Of course I am going to be their Facebook friend, but we don’t have much interaction. Breathing space.
As for my son’s ex, of course we were friends. Until the click came.
What if my son gets back together with her? Do I add her again? Should I have remained friends with her, knowing she is able to read my posts and see my photographs? Not that we would talk about her on social media but, still, it’s a dilemma.
Facebook allows us to share our world with whomever we choose and I love the way it can unite us in a common cause. Social engineering can bring down companies, change perceptions or build up a new idea. It’s powerful stuff.
Last week, I celebrated my birthday and spent a good part of my day simply responding to each and every well-wisher. As an old Capricorn girl who grew up with school friends away on holidays, I am used to everyone not being around for my birthday. I had no parties or sleepovers. Everyone simply left town.
To open my computer and see the loving messages and congratulations was very satisfying, but where is the line drawn? I have never met most of the people on Facebook, but I do follow their lives, and they follow my untidy adventures as well. So are we real friends, or not?
According to my profile I have 385 friends. I know about 100 IRL (in real life). Social media allows us to travel the world in other people’s shoes, to live through their own images and comments; opinions are formed by sharing knowledge and having our say, no matter how small.
So back to my ex-daughter-in-law-to-be. She and my son shared years together … but my loyalty lies with my son. Family first, always. She’ll have to make the first move to follow me again. Then I will follow her back. After all, she started it!
Patty Beecham is a Brisbane freelance writer.