THIS is as much an admonition to myself as to others.
As I navigate the crazy, fun, irritating world of social media alongside parenting a generation where the rules seem to change every single day, I find myself traipsing between being overly-involved and being overly-cautious to not be overly involved in my children’s social media lives.
First of all, it’s not really necessary for me to ooh and aah at every single thing they do. Because now that they’re both living with me again, I’m highly likely to know about the content they post even before they post it. Lucky me, even in their adult years, both boys still like to keep me in the loop on most things they are involved in, even if sometimes it’s as simple as a stupid video.
And if I am not involved, it is merely a (sometimes harsh) reminder that, secondly, it is but a parent’s privilege and not a right to know what’s going on in their children’s lives.
When they were three and four and five and I just had to know what was happening, that was a different story. Now that they’re supposed to be moving in bigger and bigger orbits away from me, they don’t owe me an explanation. Except when they need my help or resources (I can demand that info) or when they are endangering themselves (I will most certainly interfere).
Is it a hard pill to swallow, this transition to being less and less needed? Sometimes, admittedly, it brings some relief to not always be on call for every little thing. Sometimes, sure, it takes getting used to. But I watch people navigate their relationships with family on social media. And I stay mindful of how some exchanges can be “aww”-inducing, but others are truly cringe worthy.
Maybe this is an unpopular take, but I don’t feel the need to make myself present on family members’ posts, especially if we’re each absorbed in our own gadgets, wordlessly sitting side by side but clicking thumbs up and hearts on each others’ pages in real time. If we were halfway across the world from each other, that would be a little more forgivable. And even then, it doesn’t seem necessary to show interest or surprise to every little tidbit they care to share about.
Some social media contacts tease with memes that say: you expect me to like your post/page but you don’t do the same for mine. Who makes the rules on how much visible interaction is acceptable, anyway? Perhaps we choose to take all the details in quietly, not make our presence felt, but still maintain all the information. After all, if we were all seated around a table and you regaled us with your story of XYZ, not everyone who is listening will necessarily chime in or chastise you, take your side or take up the cudgels for someone you might be complaining about. Some might simply passively absorb your narration and leave it at that.
In the same vein, I’ve come to react negatively at the mere sight of the notification that XYZ person has commented on my post. An internal eye roll forms as I open up the post to see what has been said this time. Some people behave very differently in social media than in real life, ugh. And some others are just over-eager participants, and that in itself can be uncomfortable too.
And so, while I can be guilty of oversharing, I am also wary of being seen as overactive on other people’s walls. Doesn’t matter if it’s one of my kids, an extended family member or an acquaintance, I’d rather not run the risk of being put in an FB time out room for being nosey or irritating or mema (me/may masabi lang).
Social media is funny that way. It mimics real life at the same time that we remind ourselves that it isn’t real life. It’s a good way to practice people skills and parenting skills while also acting as a petri dish for emotions and expectations. But just as we could do well to remember not to be irritating or callous in real life, so should we keep an eye out on our social media persona. Sometimes, overzealousness can be a bad thing, and sometimes seen-zoning might actually be the better way to go.