Ah, Facebook. Is there anything more relaxing than sitting down in a class you paid thousands of dollars to attend on a laptop you justified spending hundreds on as an educational aid and logging in to Facebook?
Itâ€™s a world of pure social relaxation and bliss. Check messages, check status updates, check friend requests and … wait. Whatâ€™s this? Six friend requests? Whatâ€™s FamilyLink? Family Finder?
A cold chill. Your family wants to friend you. What about all those pictures from parties? What about all the â€œStill hungoverâ€ status updates you love? Does this mean youâ€™ll have to exercise discretion in what you post online?
Donâ€™t worry â€“â€“ helping is what I do, and I can get you out of this. The appearance of your extended family in your super-secret Facebook clubhouse doesnâ€™t have to mean itâ€™s time to become a responsible adult. It just means itâ€™s time to appear to be a responsible adult.
The easiest method is the â€˜dopplegangerâ€™ trick, taken from the German word â€˜doppelgÃ¤ngerâ€™ which means â€˜to dopplegÃ¤ng.â€™ Youâ€™ll need to create a fake e-mail and Facebook account. Fill it with the nicest pictures of yourself you have, and occasionally post status updates about how your studies are going.
Please note that by â€œnicest picturesâ€ I donâ€™t mean the ones where you look the hottest. I mean ones where there is no beer visible in the background and you maybe even have a shirt that is tucked in. And by â€œupdates on your studiesâ€ I mean, of course, updates about what you intended to do, which was your reading, instead of what you actually did, which was sleep.
The doppleganger trick is a little time intensive, and clearly youâ€™re far too busy with Facebook to spend time on Facebook. You could just try ignoring the friend requests until they decay (things decay online, right?) but at some point your relatives will notice you are screening them and the questions will pour in.
Time for defense strategy two â€“â€“ outright lying. Tell them you never check your Facebook as you are far too busy studying. This may break down if thereâ€™s any crossover between your older relatives and the people you chat with on Facebook, so itâ€™s not very solid, but it will buy you some time.
You can also rely on the notion that older people donâ€™t really understand technology. Tell them you did friend them, and explain to them that they need to check their Friend Viewing Friends Manager in their Windows Control System Mechanism.
Tell them to make sure itâ€™s set to five-point-two e-vites, and to be extra careful because if they do anything wrong their computer will start buying things from the home-shopping channel and never stop. Make sure to sound patient, and donâ€™t bother to explain it the same way twice. It will enhance your lies.
If outright cruelty and deception isnâ€™t your thing, keep in mind they are your family. You owe them for the Santa thing.
Thereâ€™s one other option, but itâ€™s not pretty. The epidemic of people being friended by their older relatives, employers and relatives of people you date just proves one thing â€“â€“ old people are finally figuring out â€œThe Internets.â€ Itâ€™s no longer a big anonymous playground full of just people your age who donâ€™t mind if you swear and drink.
The online public profile is finally actually public, in a broad sense. A poorly thought-out status update can get you fired or even ruin relationships. And thereâ€™s really only one way to handle this sudden clash of the real and virtual.
We have to find a replacement Facebook. Our clubhouse has been compromised. Maybe we can all move back into Friendsterâ€™s basement. Hey, at least itâ€™s better than our parentsâ€™.
Johnathan Kastner is a senior computer science major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.