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The message was clear and the directive straight-forward when I posted this on my own Facebook wall: "Attention wonderful world of Lorsons: Finally succumbing to Grandma Bunny's burning desire to keep track of all of you through what she calls, 'that Facebook thing,' I have just ordered her a laptop. When it arrives, I will be helping her set up an account and each and every one of you will receive a "friend request." You've got three to five days to clean up your profiles! Consider yourselves warned!"
I imagined my entire battalion of nieces and nephews, many of them college-aged or just beyond, immediately scrambling toward their Facebook accounts to rifle through their online photo albums, double-check privacy settings, and hurry to hide any and all pictures, posts or comments that might even remotely offend the sensibilities of our 85-year-old matriarch.
In issuing this warning I felt that I had done a great service to my kin on both ends of the age spectrum. The only problem was, none of the kids believed me! I learned this a few days after the decree when I happened upon Ben as he lounged on the couch thumbing his smartphone.
"So, son, have you dressed up your Facebook wall for Grandma yet?" I said.
"Duh!" he said without even looking up. "As if Grandma would ever get a computer, much less a Facebook account. That's pretty funny!"
"News flash!" I said covering his phone with my hand. "It's no joke! By the end of the week I will have endowed your beloved little granny with the power to rifle through your recent history, get acquainted with all of your sketchy friends and more or less track your every documented activity!"
"That's just plain TERRIFYING!" he said leaping from the couch to race to his computer. "I'm about to block my entire existence!"
Half-way up the stairs he slammed to a stop with an idea so bright I swear I saw tiny rays of light emanating from his ear holes.
"Just because Grandma sends me a friend request that doesn't mean I have to accept it, right?"
I pondered this for a moment. The boy was fundamentally correct. The way Facebook works is that people actually "ask" one another to share their little Internet world; and for every request there must be a response. In Ben's case, to flat-out deny a friend request from someone who used to wipe his nose and powder his behind would be a pretty firm smack in the face. But to simply ignore the request? Well, he could probably get away with that for a good, long time!
"OK, son, suit yourself; but I think if I were you I'd clean up my profile anyhow. Sooner or later Grandma will catch up to you; and I'm not going to jump to your defense when she has you by the earlobe wanting to know why you haven't allowed her into your funky little world!"
Other members of the family were considerably less aloof, and when I sat Mom down for her very first introduction to the computer I had already set up her account and populated her group of "friends" with every relative I could think of. Many of them had already responded to her and written messages of love, admiration and encouragement on her Facebook wall! She was instantly smitten! And while the mechanics of transforming an 85-year-old who spent the early years of her life without electricity and indoor plumbing into a mouse-wielding member of the "Information Age" are more than a bit daunting, I think we've gotten things off to a pretty good start! Watch out, Ben! Sooner or later she's coming after you!