"This family is so Irish it hurts. We tell everyone else in our town about the troubles in our house before we address it inside our own walls,” my cousin Patty Ann exclaimed with slurred words on a bar stool one night. She has a point.
For example, it’s so much easier to tell you, my gentle reader, that I am working up the nerve to un-friend my mother on Facebook than to tell the woman herself.
You see, it wasn’t that long ago that my parents were the people least likely to ever go online.
“Och, sure everyone has their heads down in their devices checking out their friends online than actually having conversations at the dinner table,” my mother would say, while my father condemned Facebook as “the biggest waste of time God ever invented.”
Indeed, they would roll their eyes at me over the volume of stuff I post on my page. “Ye have no filter,” they would hiss.
That’s not entirely off-base. I am an unabashed compulsive social networker whose posting is like catnip to a feline. I’m a fully self-expressed writer -- what can I say?
“Let’s see how quickly he puts this on Facebook,” my mom might snicker as she would pose in front of my camera for a picture.
A few months ago, she dipped her toe in the water by asking me how to post that picture of herself on Facebook in the nice lavender dress (the outfit she reminded me yet again that she wanted to be laid out in at the time of her death).
Now, there is no stopping her. She friended me, then went through my list of friends until my friends were now her friends.
Our phone calls are now punctuated with observations she sees on my feed: how good that one looked in her cap and gown, how this “crature” looks like she put all the weight back on in that photo in the orange dress, the foul mouth on yer wan, and the list goes on.
My father is even worse. He is an identity thief of a different sort, logging onto Facebook with my mother’s account to have a look around.
I don’t have the heart to tell him that it isn’t “the Facebook.” For cryin’ out loud it’s just Facebook, Dad!
Sometimes, he will get on the other phone line and weigh in with his commentary about the family and my friends, making my parents weigh in over the phone like a Face the Nation panel dissecting my social circle.
At a recent gathering, Dad sat to discuss the news of the day on Facebook with my Uncle Tom, another breed of cyber-stalker whose comments on everything never actually see the light of day online. Ye know the type.
My cousin nudged me and pointed in their direction. “Those two are the biggest washwomen of the whole lot of us,” she remarked with a good-natured giggle.
The crime in all of this is that my parents maintain a far busier social calendar than I do. They have tons to write about, and Mom has a smartphone that makes her granddaughters envious.
I’d love for them to post a photo or some observation on life once in a while just so I can keep track of their globetrotting!
I guess I should be glad that Facebook keeps us all connected. The ability to keep in touch with the relatives overseas is pure bliss, and my parents take great delight in the joyful faces of my cousins’ ruddy faces that get posted after they score a winning goal on the fields in faraway Tuam.
As I am writing this all out in front of you, I have come to the conclusion that un-friending anyone, especially the people who gave me my life, is too harsh a measure.
I know it gives them a great sigh of relief, for example, to read on my feed how I landed safely when I check in at the latest airport. It is an opportunity to keep connected with my folks on those weeks when the schedule is too busy to connect face to face over a meal.
So, I’ve just dusted off an old account and have taken to Twitter instead to get an outlet all to myself. Check me out at #brainonshamrox, but only if you haven’t had any part in my conception!
I’ve been “favoriting” to my heart’s content today, landing on some of the most interesting pages. My youngest daughter looked over my shoulder as I was doing this during breakfast and recoiled in dread.
“What are YOU doing on Twitter?” she shrieked.
“It’s a free country,” I replied defensively. “I’m just looking around.”
“Annie!” she yelled up the stairs to her older sister. “Dad’s on Twitter!”
“SERIOUSLY?” came the reply. “Please don’t, dad. You’ll ruin it!!”
“Time for a new place to hide,” my daughter said with a shrug. “Twitter’s no longer a cool place to hang if you can bump into your parents there. I’m going back on Vine. Later!”
Well, that spoonful of my own medicine didn’t taste very good. Or as they say in the Twitter-verse, #whatgoesaroundcomesaround....
(Mike Farragher’s collection of funny essays can be found on www.thisisyourbrainonshamrocks.com)