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On Facebook: My mother, my 'friend'

A Facebook invitation leaves a daughter disconcerted.

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The first time she showed up, it was at a safe distance – as a friend of a friend. There was no picture, but I recognized her. My mother had joined Facebook.

During my last visit, she had asked me if I used the site. "Do you like it?" she pressed. "It's OK," I replied.

I wouldn't categorize myself as a fan. I joined reluctantly, succumbing to pressure at work to incorporate social networking into my skill set.

At first, I used it solely for friendly Scrabulous games. I waited six months to post a picture of myself, and only then because the androgynous silhouette assigned to the pictureless wore me down. A year in, I'm a lurker at best. I upload photos intermittently. From time to time, I take a quiz. I've posted a "status update" all of once, a failed attempt to scare up some real-life social activity ahead of a trip to Pensacola to see family. Mostly I log in to steal looks at other people's lives.

I'd only recently gotten over the trauma of reading the overly intimate tweets of a co-worker and general TMI (too much information) from any number of people who would normally keep a respectable distance.

What if my mom "friended" me? Should I accept? Could it be awkward? Would I have to guard myself?

I'd read about the evolving field of ethics in online social networks, who ought – and ought not – to be friends online. Teacher and minor student? Definite no-no. Therapist and patient? Probably not. Parent and adult child? Gray area.

My mother must have considered the potential problems, too. If she'd used the Facebook utility to scour her e-mail address book for potential partners, it would have turned up my name. She had decided not to friend me.


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