Facebook. Ah, Facebook. The way to make “friends” with people you haven’t spoken to in years, most of whom you wouldn’t have missed. The way you keep updated with the minutae of everyone elses’ lives. A brilliant marketing tool, and a nice way to keep in touch with the people who you do actually care about, as opposed to those you never really knew. It can be updated from Twitter, used to share blog updates, that sort of thing.
And here is where my dilemma is. My dad has added me on Facebook.
The invite is sitting there, ignored for the moment. I know that I really should add him, that it would be the polite thing to do. Well, here’s the thing. There are elements of my life that I like to share with my parents, and elements that I like to share with everyone but. Being friends with Dad on Facebook (and therefore sharing my blog with him) feels like a gross invasion of privacy.
My parents: where do we start? They mean well, I think. They both have a tendency to interfere more than they should, and Mum does it more than Dad. For example, within five minutes of walking through our front door, she’ll be “tidying up”, reorganising, and telling me how to run the house. She organised David’s baptism to the point of telling me which food I could bring to the party and what everyone should wear, and she’s trying to pull the same trick with our wedding. She is highly critical of everything that I do, and even worse, that David does. Since David was born she’s been offering her usual helpful advice on what to do, and telling me exactly why what I’m doing is wrong. She is horrified that we own only THREE baby books (not books for him, books about him) and that we look things up on the internet instead. She’s horrified that we do baby-led weaning instead of feeding him purees and crap in jars. She’s horrified that I’m “still” carrying him in a sling (some of the time) at ten months old, that he wears shoes when we go out(?), that he’s allowed the occasional chocolate biscuit or packet of crisps, that he watches TV, that we let him cry it out when he’s tired (“child abuse”, her words), that we eat in restaurants with him(?), that he goes to the childminder, that he comes to work with us sometimes, that Joe looks after him as much as I do… you get the picture. She’s not afraid to scrutinise my every move, and tell me exactly where I’m going wrong. She also sends me “helpful” links, (and for the record, Mother, I KNOW he’s probably teething again), and has bought me six or seven baby books (edit: nine) and recipe books to make up for the shortfall of information on the Internet. I know she’s probably only trying to help, but seriously? I can’t bear to give her any more access into my life.
Dad goes along with what Mum says, most of the time. He, again, does try to organise things for me, but I think he realises that I’ve grown up enough to make my own decisions. (He was the parent who, on collecting me from a rather drunken party, asked if “someone had spilled beer on me or something”, because I smelled of alcohol. I was about fifteen at the time, and I thought I’d got away with it for years afterwards. Thanks, Dad!) He doesn’t tell me that what I do is wrong like Mum does, he just appreciates having a grandson to spend time with. His attempts to get “down with technology” are usually hilarious, but incredibly annoying: I wish he’d stop sending me joke chain mails and just tell me a joke over the phone, for once. However, I’m still not entirely comfortable with being Facebook friends.
My parents are not yet aware that I’ve been diagnosed with depression. As far as I know, they have no idea that I have any mental health issues at all, and I’d rather keep it that way. There has always been an expectation in my family to hide things, to stay strong and supportive for others: depression is “not something we talk about” (my mother when I tried to broach the subject) and “just hormones”. My Asperger’s (or whatever it is) is “just my personality” and I’ve apparently “always been like that”, but “can’t be autistic because (I) talked early.” I feel that by giving my parents access to my blog, I’d be unable to write about these things. I choose to keep them fairly private, but I don’t want to feel uncomfortable writing about them if I want to in the future.
Still, it would be nice to keep Mum and Dad updated without the half-hourly phone call every day, and without the nagging to send pictures. Pictures which are always criticised: “Oh, I don’t like black and white photos.” “Couldn’t you have got his whole head in there?” “Your brother is SUCH a good photographer, even though he’s only got a little camera.” It would be handy to get Dad addicted to Happy Aquarium or Farmville, so that I could have another neighbour. (Come on, I’m honest.)
So, what do I do? The current idea is to add Dad as a friend on David’s Facebook profile, which has the best of the photos on. That way, they get updates on David’s development (which, to be honest, is all they’re interested in) and don’t get to see my blog or my status updates. Blog-wise, I’ve registered a WordPress blog in my married name, and when we’ve tied the knot I’ll cross-post David’s newsletters. Is this the way to do it, or would something else work better? We’ll find out, I suppose.