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In wrong hands, technology is dumb

November 17, 2011|By Jen Kim, For RedEye

When my mom joined modern-day society, my world changed. It happened when I saw a familiar message pop up on Facebook.

"Jen's mom" wants to be friends with you. Do you accept?

That lady in the picture looked an awful lot like the lady who gave birth to me, but there was no way she knew what Facebook was. She didn't even know how to turn on a computer.

With an immediacy of a wild mongoose, I clicked "no" and closed my screen, hoping the friend invite was just a glitch in the universe—a momentary black hole whose vortex happened to be in the center of my little apartment.

The next day, the invitation was back. This time, with a little more urgency, it came with a message: "Jenny, it's Mom!"

It was time for me to jump ship. And it was also, apparently, time for Facebook to jump the shark.

For when my mother starts to do anything "cool" or "hip," that thing no longer is "cool" or "hip." The most flagrant memory of her Midas touch is when the song "Macarena" first came out. What originally was a fun little ditty to dance to during my pre-teen years became a routine fixture at every adult gathering for the next decade.

Not to say she is questing for the fountain of youth—no, not at all. Rather, my mother is a bona fide Luddite who simply eschews most technology.

I remember the first time she texted me on her cellphone. It read: "Jenny, it's Mom. Don't text me. It costs me 30 cents."

Needless to say, it was the first and last text between us. Why she thought it was necessary to address me by name and alert me to who she was, I will never know, but that rare and costly text still is buried deep in the recesses of my phone. I look at it on occasion, when I feel like the world is moving too quickly for me. There is relief because I know that no matter how fast technology advances for me, my mother still will be fighting it tooth and text.

Going back to that Facebook friend request, I knew I didn't have much choice in the matter. Even though her profile revealed that she had just three other friends (other older folks who did not know how to upload a profile picture), I realized I would eventually have to acquiesce into a virtual friendship with her.

I accepted.

For the next few days, nothing happened. I had heard of other parents befriending their offspring on Facebook, posting embarrassing comments on their walls and friending their offspring's friends. But my wall stayed blemish-free and no one I knew was hassled by this middle-aged lady who looked like me.

The next time I went home, I asked my mom, "So, how are you liking Facebook?" She had no idea what I was talking about.

Like so many other high-tech gadgets she had been introduced to, my mom got bored and was no longer interested.

My relationship with Facebook was safe. Until, that is, the day my dad sent me a friend request.

JEN KIM IS A REDEYE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR.

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