Social media surprises from our mothers
It wasn’t until I was in high school that I really started to recognize my mom had an identity beyond being putting a healthy, home-made meal on the table every night, making sure we understood our homework, and offering encouraging words or a forgiving smile when we needed it the most.
Now, I always knew she was a cool lady, but recently I’ve been starting to see where I must have gotten the Internet-nerd gene from in the family. Over the last couple years, my mom has started to get into social media: She uses Bloglines to read RSS feeds (she’s got mine in there!), we chat more over IM than we do on the phone, and a few months ago she asked me how hard I thought learning Dreamweaver, a website-building application, would be for her (my answer: Go for it!). Oh, and although she doesn’t have an account yet, she knows what Twitter is. I can’t even say that for most of my friends.
Since we’re all very passionate about social media here at Hammock, I figured I wasn’t the only one whose mom was starting to warm up to the new media bandwagon. Read on to find out whose moms have embraced this new technology and whose might still be a bit leery.
Summer Huggins: I would classify my sweet mom as a “lurker” when it comes to social media. She keeps a close eye on hammock.com, my flickr account, my tumblr page and my personal blog. Rather than commenting online when she sees something on hammock.com for instance that she really enjoys, she’ll call or email me with a comment. Though I will say she really does quite a bit of commenting on my flickr photos. She says if she hasn’t talked to me for a few days, she can always look on flickr and quickly figure out what I’ve been up to.
Just last week she surprised me with an “OMG” in an email. I was all like OMG, my mother just said “OMG”!
Jamie Roberts: My mother is a very gifted woman, but Internet savvy is not one of her gifts. She is perfectly fine with the crawl of her dial-up access, reads email but doesn’t answer it, gets mad when I text her because it “costs extra,” and doesn’t see the need for a Facebook account when her children can just summarize the gossip about our hometown friends. If Rex could bring her to the other side, it would be one of his greatest achievements.
Megan Pacella: The first time my mom sent me a text message, I almost died. Now she’s texting pretty often, which is a huge deal for a mom living in Youngstown, Ohio. Plus, I like getting nice messages from her during the workday. She’s also making noise about getting a Facebook profile, although I think I might have to teach her a little bit about that–and I’d probably have to censor my own Facebook profile for her sake. She always tells me that there are just some things moms don’t want to know. Maybe she’ll comment on this post. Now THAT would be a landmark.
Ben Stewart: I would tell you a story about my mom and technology, but I think if I gave her a pager it would blow her mind. I believe she set up an email account at one point, but I haven’t heard anything of it since. She works for the post office and still does everything by traditional mail.
Bill Hudgins: My mom died in 1951 when I was very young, and among the few things of hers I ultimately came to own were her high school diary and some letters, mostly written during World War II. In her diary, she described pre-war life in a very small town — a village, really — where if you wanted to talk to someone, you did so face-to-face. Not everyone had telephones, and they were much too serious to tie up with idle yakking. (When my inlaws built the house we now live in, they had one phone jack on the top floor — in a hallway — and two on the bottom, in the den and the kitchen. No privacy.) So kids constantly hung out, took walks, met at the movie house or skating rink or school events. Or wrote letters.
It’s hard to imagine now, but frequent letter-writing only recently gave way to instant forms of communication like phones and digital media. Mail moved rapidly and was delivered, or at least put in post office boxes, more than once a day — I recall that being true even into the 1960s. Long-distance phone calls were very expensive and not always easy to do — it involved the assistance of an operator, and you had to wait while they “tried your party.” Several households shared a single phone line, like having extensions up and down your block, so you had to wait until the phone was not in use to make a call. Telegrams were either bad news or good news.
All of which leads me to conclude that, based on her diary and letters, she’d have loved today’s methods of communication and sharing. Her girlish confidences to her diary reveal a strong need to talk and share with friends. Her chatty letters are often as mundane as anyone’s IMs or text messages, and fascinating to try to decipher.
I think she’d be shocked or maybe dismayed at the widespread vulgarity in posts and so on, but she did have an impish, almost naughty side, based on some things I found. She was adventurous, so I suspect that today, when she’d be in her 90s, if she still had the mental capability, she’d be IMing me to quit posting on Facebook and get back to work.