A very smart woman of our acquaintance joined Facebook so she could spy on her college-aged son. She sent her son a Friend request. He wrote back: “Love you Mom, but no way!” Thinking she was sweetening the pot, Mom wrote back: “If you Friend me, I’ll pay for your Facebook for a whole year!”
Whether its Mom stalking her offspring on Facebook or Dad showing off his latest Tweets while he’s chauffeuring the soccer carpool, social media are just the latest technology whereby well-intended parents can cause their offspring considerable embarrassment.
Of course, the Millennial Generation (sometimes called Generation Y) have always been more comfortable with technology than the Boomers and Gen-Xers who preceded them. After all, they grew up with computers and video game consoles; they’ve been multi-tasking practically since birth. Text messaging is second nature to them and they don’t understand why older generations insist on regarding smart phones as something you talk into.
Here are four more examples of the technological disconnect between the generations, technology mishaps involving parents.
The Proliferation of Well-Dressed Homeless People
Many older people are perplexed by the concept of cell phone headsets, particularly when Bluetooth is involved. They may not be able to make out the miniscule earpiece and they’re really stymied when the headset is cordless.
Thus when Mom is standing at a distance watching her beloved daughter chat up a faraway friend, she may leap to the conclusion that her daughter is talking to herself or at the very least to the Imaginary Playmate that Mom thought she saw the last of when her daughter was four.
Mom doesn’t start to get really embarrassing however until she and the daughter are at the mall, and Mom goes up to a stranger – who’s talking on a cell phone headset – and hands the stranger a dollar.
“Why’d you do that?” asks the daughter.
“Well, I figure he’s homeless – after all, he’s talking to himself, right?” says Mom. “So he can probably use the money. Although I must say, he’s awfully well dressed for a homeless person.”
It took a while but finally family game night is beginning to feature video games in addition to that ancient edition of Scrabble where half the E tiles are missing. The Wii game console with its dazzling assortment of sports games like Wii Bowling and Wii Tennis is always a crowd pleaser.
But have you ever tried to play Wii Tennis with someone who was born before the concept “virtual reality” became commonplace? Someone from an older generation who’s related to you? This person may insist upon playing Wii Tennis as though it was a contact sport, slamming that controller dangerously close to the TV. The “three feet back” rule wasn’t invented to guard the television from overly rambunctious children but from clueless older folks.
Cancel My Subscription
The young man who told us this story about his mother swears it’s true although we have our doubts.
She approached him one day looking for help: She wanted to stop subscribing to a department store e-newsletter but her efforts were being thwarted. “I’ve written to Macy’s three times now,” she complained to her son. “Once to their local address and twice to their New York address and they still keep sending me the darn thing.”
Mom was chagrinned to discover she’d wasted all those stamps: The proper way to unsubscribe from a newsletter or indeed any listserv at all, of course, is to send the publishers an email with the word “unsubscribe” in the body of the message.
Sharing Embarrassing Photographs
One of the most embarrassing things a parent can do is share snapshots of you as a child with your Significant Other. Invariably they pick those photographs where you’re romping naked in the bathtub with your sister or you’ve fallen asleep in the back seat of the car with your finger lodged firmly up your nose.
The rise of social networking websites has broadened the scope of this humiliation. Now simply by tagging those candid photos of you, your parents can embarrass you not only in front of your current Significant Other but also in front of any potential love interests on your Facebook or MySpace Friends lists.