With the infusion of social media into our daily culture, opinions, like assholes, come one per person.
Versions of that saying have floated around for years, and you’ve probably heard it many times before. Personally, I got it from my mom. And that’s why I am writing and thinking about social media overuse. It’s because of my mom being on my mind.
Tomorrow marks five years to the day that my mother passed away. She slid out just before moms started getting Facebook accounts. She never learned what it was to “tweet” at someone, and she never got a recipe from “pinning” a damn thing. In fact, the woman had no recipes. Her culinary masterpieces were made strictly from muscle memory and good taste. My mom was a member of a dying breed, and she too died, keeping true to the saying.
My closest friends know that she was actually (biologically speaking) my grandmother. My mother’s mother, who snatched me up the day I was born and brought me up as her own. Those in my family know that by the time she was 43, when I was born, she was more focused and caring and able to give more to me as a mom than most usually get from their parents. By the time she was in her sixties, she was sharp-tongued, sardonic, and yet warmer than the fire that fueled her personality. All that, and she barely even texted anyone. Ever.
She passed things down to me like her sailor’s mouth and the skill to make a killer marinara sauce (the key is in the sugar). But she definitely left us all too soon, and stopped short of ushering me completely into adulthood. In fact, I think I grew the hell up the day she died. I crossed that threshold without her, and I did it quickly.
When tomorrow comes, people who knew her will think of her. Some of her closest subjects will post things about her on the social media she never used. We see these things all the time. The barrage of “RIP”s and the verses from poems and the “<” symbol mixed with “3” that Zuckerberg’s minions have so coyly turned into the electronic image of a construction paper heart.
I’d rather think about the time I made her pee herself by doing an imitation of her sister. Or all the millions of times she accused me of being an asshole in an effort to just be sure I grew up to be a decent guy. Her memory for me is best preserved in the stories I tell that involve her and the crystal image I have in my mind of walking up the short flight of stairs into her living room, rounding the corner, and seeing her sitting on the couch yelling at the TV, and then, at me.
Mom never did use the internet all that much. She never knew about a world with Barack Obama (though she would have liked him over “that effing moron” who was in the White House when she died). And, she never used Facebook. Maybe if she had, she would have reconnected the same people who stood in line back in January 2008 to tell me how much she meant to them.
Something tells me that after five years in a universe where everything has changed, that if she were here her beautifully curt nature would still be in tact. It was a wit that never saw the hollowed world of online communication, and hers was an honest and genuine perspective from someone I miss today and every day.