Remember 2009? It was a freer time then.
For a while there, the internet was a parent-free zone, a glorious escape from your progenitors’ snooping eyes.
But no more. Facebook is now supremely uncool, which means everyone’s on it, including your mum, dad and Aunt Maureen. And they’re watching your every move.
The thing is, baby boomers are new to this internets business. They didn’t grow up with an innate sense of what’s acceptable online behaviour.
Just a few short years ago, my parents were still blissfully ignorant of social media, lacking the wherewithal to navigate its various platforms.
I could tag myself in photographs that suggested budding alcoholism and poor decision-making, and swear with impunity.
That all ended when my mother and stepfather joined Facebook with a joint account (parents like to navigate the internet together, one hand each on the mouse).
I am the first to admit I handled it badly. Things were said that couldn’t be taken back. There was radio silence on Facebook, until I was desperate, just desperate, to see an obscure dad-joke on a picture of me posted by a friend they didn’t know.
Eventually, we made it up, but I learned an important lesson: the internet is a place we now share with our parents, so we need to learn to get along.
Here are my tips for having a harmonious online relationship with your parents.
1. Censor your profile.
Fact is, you don’t really want anyone to see that picture of you several margaritas deep and doing the Single Ladies dance. It wasn’t your finest moment. You are not Beyonce.
And no one thinks putting your middle finger up is clever, young lady.
2. Educate and lead by example.
Communicating on social media is like a whole different language. Older people who are new to it are often unaware of what’s appropriate.
I mean, they’re all over LOL (and my mum’s favourite OMG, which she actually says out loud now, “Oh em gee!”), but they might not realise that sending incessant Candy Crush requests is obnoxious, or that having an endorsement from your mum on LinkedIn is unlikely to score you a job.
Just sit ’em down and explain it. Don’t be patronising – they didn’t belittle you when you didn’t know how to ride your bike yet.
3. Be understanding.
Yes, fine, maybe your dad did just discover Keyboard Cat (rest in peace, you little treasure) and keeps sending you GIFs of the Star Wars kid, but remember when you saw those magical memes for the first time?