Explaining Social Media to Your Parents
Patience is a virtue, tweeting is a skill.
My dad once live-tweeted the entire VMAs, only he doesn’t have a Twitter account, so when I say that my dad once live-tweeted the entire VMAs what I mean is I received 25 texts in the span of two hours.
“Has Miley Cyrus gone insane?” he asked me.
“Is that guy on crack?!!?” he also asked, punctuation verbatim, and my favorite of the night (text number 15):
“Haha Rihanna and girl next to her look so bored.”
Had my dad been more social media savvy, he could have saved me that particular breed of fury which only occurs when you’re waiting for a specific text from a specific person and SOMEONE WHO IS NOT THAT PERSON WILL NOT STOP BLOWING YOU UP. Dad.
If only he’d had a Facebook wall or a Twitter, I might not have had to throw my phone across the room.
With the Oscars coming up I have decided to take a more proactive approach this time — not by limiting my dad’s voice but rather, by hoping to present him with the very tools that could help him share it. I e-mailed both my dad and my mom (the e-mail, they excel in) and asked them to let me help them by answering their questions about social media.
Their questions are in bold, my answers are below, and I can only pray that we all get through the red carpet in peace.
From my mom:
“What exactly is a hash tag? I mean I know what it looks like but, what is it?
Moms are right on the curve. They tend to know what’s up, but they don’t always know the full story. (Just like in high school! I am just kidding mom!) To that, our mothers are aware that The Hash Tag exists in the form of modern communication but don’t really get why.
Moms, think of hash-tagging as an organizational tool, just like when you used to make us clean up our rooms. One is a bin for #selfies. One is a bin for #swag. One is a bin for #TBT, and many are akin to the drawer or space under the bed that we used to hide all of our miscellaneous crap in so that the room appeared clean, but wasn’t.
“Vines – I actually like Vines! Mini movies are great. But I can’t remember how long they run and if they evaporate or something after the time is over. You know, just in case I ever have to make a reference.”
They are 6 seconds long, and nope, you can make all the references you want. What you’re thinking of is Snapchat, which does evaporate after a set amount of time.
“Oh right, that sexting app.”
Not everyone sexts with Snapchat, though be advised that it should be used with caution. Usually we’re just sending pictures of ourselves with double chins to friends. Sometimes we get creative. For example, I like to draw stick figures next to me accompanied by the caption, “Just hanging with all my boyfriends!”
“Is MySpace still around and does anyone use it?”
No…I think bands do? Actually have no clue. Comment section, help me out on this one.
Now, from my dad:
“Can you remember not having Facebook? What did you do instead? Did you have more time in the day to do other stuff? If I get an account, do you think I’ll be on it all the time?”
(Note: My dad is REALLY concerned that Facebook is the devil and or crack/cocaine. He wants to try it so badly but hasn’t given in.)
Hi dad, me here. To answer your questions: Yes. Myspace and AIM. No. Yes.
“Do you know anyone who doesn’t have Facebook? Do you think they’re weird? Would you date a guy who doesn’t have Facebook?”
I literally only know one person without a Facebook, and he does it because, “It’s cooler to tell chicks that you don’t have one. ” So, there you have it folks.
“Is Instagram only photos or can you include text?”
DAD WE ALWAYS HAVE THIS CONVERSATION. Picture, accompanied by text below, it’s called a caption. People can comment underneath. Yes people who are not my friends can see my pictures, yes you can set your profile to private if you want to.
“If you follow a lot of different people on Twitter do you get non-stop ‘tweets’ all day long? Doesn’t that get annoying? Does anyone actually use the word ‘tweet’? “
Funny you should ask that, dad. Remember how this story opened?….
Illustration by Charlotte Fassler