When I was 9 years old, you grounded me for a week for saying “fuck” when I was playing Nintendo 64 in our den. It was a word I had heard on the playground at school, and I genuinely didn’t know what it meant other than it was to be used in a state of anger. You saw me say it before immediately pulling the plug on my favorite source of entertainment. And until recently, I never understood how you could punish me for my ignorance. That is, until you signed up for Facebook.
My phone lit up with a notification — “[Redacted] has added you as a friend.” And while uncomfortable Facebook requests are a dime a dozen, this one was different. I can’t “maybe later” my own father. I couldn’t deny you the happiness of being Facebook friends with your own son. You taught me how to shave, explained statutory rape laws to me when I turned 17, and put me through college. Without you, I’d just be dust in the wind.
However, I get it — you’re trying to be relevant by adopting new technology. But look where you got yourself without it. You’re a self-respecting, 60-something man with a career behind you and the lavish life of retirement in front of you. Do you really need to spend your nights watching viral videos from two months ago that just now surfaced on your newsfeed? Is it totally necessary for you to divulge all of your opinions about Hillary and Bernie by way of hastily made political memes shared from an aggressively named right-wing fan page?
When you were writing me text messages and emails in all caps, I was understanding of it. After all, I was the only person reading them. But when you respond to your friend from high school about getting together for a class of ’68 reunion, it looks like you’re shouting, angrily responding like you have some sort of lasting grudge with them.
People don’t write “LOL” and “LMFAO” anymore, and neither should you. I don’t like to imagine my father behind the keyboard just hunting-and-pecking like a 14-year-old girl on AIM. I like you imagine you chopping wood, drinking beer, and shoveling snow.
Yes, I can trust you to wire me some money without telling mom when times get tough. And sure, I have confidence that you’ll help me move when my lease ends in a few months. Of course, I can count on you to give me some pointers when I want to propose to my girlfriend. But what worries me? I don’t have the faith that you know how to perfectly configure Facebook’s security settings. I don’t think you understand the repercussions of ‘liking’ random photos of busty women that you somehow stumble across. But most of all, I fear that you’ll accidentally share a link to a website that I’d much prefer I never knew you visited in the first place.
You see, dad, Facebook is a dark place. I’ve been on it for more than a decade now, and I can pretty much find out anything about anyone using Advanced Search and tinkering with a few settings. But I don’t want to know everything about you. I don’t want others to dive deep into your newsfeed only to come out with an understanding that you may or may not have some unfounded and possibly prejudiced political views. I just want to see you as my father — the man whose mystique and mystery made him an untouchable god in my adolescent eyes.
I don’t ask you for much anymore, but I will ask you this — will you please get off Facebook?
Your Son .
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