The Perils of Social Media

Or, I must remember my son’s computer has ears.

Last night, after attending a thrilling township planning meeting, I came home to find my son playing on his laptop in the family room, his sister next to him reading a book, and my husband eagerly waiting to tell me something.

He had some “constructive criticism” for me about a huge, designed-to-look-built-in bookshelf and cabinet project. After I’d primed and painted and stained and shellacked said shelves and cabinets (that okay, yes, my husband had built), he feared I hadn’t waited long enough to attach these little round, clear, button-type things that keep the cabinet doors from banging into their frames. He said the buttons “might” stick to the perhaps still-tacky paint


So I asked him, “Why do you always have to have some ‘teachable’ (I used air quotes) moment at the end of a project? Just how many more of these cabinets do you anticipate making in the near future that you think would warrant my knowing, now, how to ‘do it better’ (again, air quotes) next time?”

Sensing my displeasure, he tried to defend his actions. “You just worked so hard on them, and then you rushed that final stage,” to which I responded with something along the lines of, “Let me give YOU a teachable moment: When your wife has finished her leg of one of your painful, months-long projects, all you need to say is Thank You.”  I may or may not have added, “You’re such a dumb ass sometimes,” as my memory becomes blurry at that point.

My son, no stranger to conversations like this, just continued happily playing on his laptop.  His sister laughed at us, or more likely, just her dad.

And then I heard my son’s computer ask,

Is that your mom?”

Turns out, he’d been online with a friend playing Minecraft while they Skyped to discuss their strategies.

Honestly, I’m better behaved when friends visit my kids; I certainly avoid calling their dad a dumb ass. But this whole interactive computer play has thrown me off. It’s like a stealth house guest who has sneaked in and is hiding in the playroom, listening to our “behind the scenes” family life, warts and all. Worse yet, maybe the friend’s parents heard too; maybe they’ll never let their son come over again.

In an entrepreneurial spirit that reflects my family’s ridiculous addiction to Shark Tank, I think I’m going to invent some sort of large, red light on my son’s computer that flashes like a beacon to alert us when he’s Face-timing or Skyping with a friend.  And then get some of those old-fashioned, low-tech life-guard flags to use to communicate with my husband. How do you signal “Dumb-ass?”