At first, I actually refused to be friends with my mother on Facebook. Friending your mother on Facebook entails crossing a boundary that I wasn’t ready to, where you are privy to the inner workings of your mother’s brain and find out its populated with cat memes. But after multiple family members called me to tell me that “snubbing” my mother was “breaking her heart” (like that’s even a thing), I gave in. I accepted my mother’s token online friendship. Since then, I’ve become friends not only with my mother but also an entire network of friends’ mothers, aunts and great aunts who seem to live their whole lives on Facebook.
After polling some of my friends about their mothers’ Facebooking habits, these are our learnings of Mom Culture from our mothers’ internet lives. This is what your mother loves to do in her free time. It’s why you love her.
1. Ask you when you are coming home to visit, which she also wanted to know last week and the week before. It doesn’t matter if you live in another state or country, joined the Peace Corps or are orbiting the earth in a giant rocket. She will still want to know.
2. Send you invites to Mafia Wars, CityVille or FarmVille — because middle-aged women apparently do nothing else other than internet farm in their free time. Your mother probably thinks this is what “going green” means.
3. Post grammatically incorrect Facebook updates about pets or obscure family members you’ve never heard of. She will then take photos at local steakhouses with these same family members, all of whom will have identical chin length haircuts.
4. Put up memes you don’t understand, usually containing pictures of Disney characters, Looney Tunes, Care Bears, Precious Moments, the M&M cartoons or those weird Hot Topic bunnies — although you are positive your mother has no idea what Hot Topic is.
5. Mention you in status updates about how much she loves you. These status updates will always have an unnecessary amount of exclamation points. You are sure that she had too many glasses of wine before she posted it.
6. Post pictures of “girls’ night!!!”, which entails watching Grey’s Anatomy and drinking margaritas so your mom can feel “young again.” To your mother, feeling young is acting like a sophomore sorority girl at the University of Tennessee.
7. Update about her book club and how much Fifty Shades of Grey is “changing her life” — in ways you don’t want to know the specifics of. She’s also way into Mitch Albom, Dan Brown, Deepak Chopra and almost anything Oprah likes.
8. Use caps lock for lots of things that don’t require caps lock. For some reason, mothers cannot figure out internet grammar and INSIST ON TYPING like they are a dyslexic 12-year-old with their first cellphone.
9. Fantasize about Adam Levine, because there’s nothing a mom loves more than the sweet, middle aged lady friendly jams of Maroon 5.
10. Comment on your friends’ status updates. You are often concerned that your mother is better friends with your friends than you are, and you sometimes find out what’s going on their lives through her.
11. Remind you to clean your room. You’re 24 and live in another city. She’s still bothering you about cleaning up after yourself.
12. Post pictures of the family pet in various costumes, of your nieces and nephews doing almost anything, of random photos of trees or of some woman on her church retreat that she swears you remember. You are positive that you’ve never seen this woman before in your life.
13. Talk about what happened on Castle, because moms love themselves some Nathan Fillion. He’s like the Ryan Gosling of the over-forty set.
14. Use Facebook as a vehicle for outdated observational humor that your mother still thinks is in style. “What’s the deal with this Groupon business, amiright?” The funny thing: if your mother just knew what Groupon was, she would go apeshit over it. Groupons would be her Wonka golden tickets.
15. Instagram her family dinners. And you thought Instagram was just for hipsters! How can a family gathering happen if it isn’t captured in a sepia tint?
16. Tag you in a lot of photos and albums you are not actually in. Many of these will be American flags, posts about supporting the troops or pictures of her friends that you have nothing to do with. Your mother hasn’t quite figured out tagging yet.
17. Perpetuate long standing family feuds, like the weird beef she has with her second cousin, Marge. You don’t remember the details of its inception and don’t think your mother does either.
18. Mourn the death of Hostess and the loss of all of the Twinkies. It’s like her generation’s equivalent of Heath Ledger dying.
19. Post pictures of herself in various MySpace angles doing fairly mundane things, like sitting on the couch in her snuggie, sorting mail or watching TLC.
20. Live blog The Voice or Dancing with the Stars, any show that, without the extreme devotion of mothers everywhere, wouldn’t have an audience.
21. Status update about how lucky and thankful she is, often multiple times within the course of an entire day. This goes into overdrive when a new Josh Groban or Susan Boyle CD comes out. If she runs out of things to be thankful for, she will just update happy emoticons until she finds something else.
22. Like any status you post that she deems “appropriate.” If she disapproves of the MPAA rating of your post, she will post a scolding remark. Her targets will include any update that contains swear words, alcohol consumption, subversive humor or criticisms of the GOP. All of these likes and implicit dislikes tend to happen all at once, as she scrolls down your page, so you’ll get a week’s worth of notification bombs in one fell swoop.
23. Tell the world how “ExCiTeD!!!” she is to see the new Twilight movie with your siblings, who swear they “totally” want to go with her. She also might be more excited about Twilight than anyone else you know.
24. Complain about her boss, your father, “this crazy weather!”, bunions, Mondays, whatever local sports team “BLEW IT!!!” this week or Mitt Romney losing.
25. Write surprisingly lengthy tributes to the obscure family member or pet that recently passed away. You never knew she had so many feelings about the family goldfish, Goldie Meir.
26. Reconnect with old friends, create Facebook groups to keep up with them and organize meet-ups to reminisce about the “good ol’ old days.” The records of these days entail lots of pictures in leisure suits and haircuts that look like wigs but aren’t wigs. Can you believe that Farrah Fawcett do was ever a thing?
27. Anything related to e-cards. Posting e-cards, making her own e-cards, commenting on other peoples’ e-cards… you name it. Moms are weirdly obsessed with them, and one day, in the near future, they will only be able to communicate using e-cards. It’s what Phillip K. Dick has been warning us about all these years.
28. Put up any YouTube video having to do with cats, babies or baby cats. In any of these scenarios, the subject of the video is doing the “darndest thing” and the title of the video will feature “LOL,” “ROFL,” “LMAO” or (if it’s sooooo funny!!!) “LMGDMFAO.”
29. Post songs from bands that she thinks you like. It’s a nice gesture, but your mom still thinks that Matchbox Twenty and 3 Doors Down are what “the kids” are listening to these days, because “these days” are apparently 2002.
30. Sign random petitions for things that will never happen, like for the Beatles to get back together or Debra Winger to start being in more movies. Your mom really misses Debra Winger.
31. Make obscene punctuation mistakes, like using three commas to separate clauses. Why do the clauses need to be kept apart so forcibly? Did one clause steal the other clause’s man? Is this an episode of Jerry Springer? The possibilities abound.
32. Obsess over her children’s love lives, relationships and marriages. This goes into overdrive if any of your siblings get married or have children, and it’s all you will hear about for the rest of her life. She will then use this to remind you that you are neither hitched nor with child. Isn’t technology great?
33. Words With Friends. This is the center of her universe, the sun around which she spins.
34. Quote the Bible, Nicholas Sparks novels, Dr. Phil, her best friend, Gandhi, an inspirational infomercial or a “FUNNY!!!” bumper sticker, usually of an awkwardly offensive joke you’d never be able to repeat to your friends. On Facebook, your mom can be kinda racist.
35. Post unexpectedly melodramatic pictures with captions like: “Sometimes, I just want to disappear and see if anyone would miss me.” Because your mom is secretly emo.
36. Update about the foster poodles, Leopold and Loeb, she has used to replace you.
37. Remind you that your nieces, nephews and other miscellaneous babies still exist, because otherwise you might forget. When your family members keep multiplying like Tribbles or Petraeus mistresses, it can be hard to keep up.
38. Put up your baby pictures and usually ones that entail partial nudity. Embarrassing you via photo album is soo 2003.
39. Write poetry. Her own poetry. It’s usually about how she is like a tree, a flower, a bird or all of the above.
40. Use status updates as messages to you or your father, because she can’t figure out how to send messages on Facebook. This could include things like, “Honey, can you pick up the dry cleaning?”; “Why don’t you call me more often?” or (when shit gets real); “WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME ANYMORE?”