Austin Fast

Let’s face it: a great deal of college students spend far more time on Facebook.com while sitting in the back of some 300-person Top 25 Initiative class than actually paying attention to the professor miles away in the front of the room.

Ever since Mark Zuckerberg’s ingenious time-wasting invention became a phenomenon in 2004, it’s been helping students procrastinate and keep in touch with friends far more effectively than ever before.

From announcing parties, to sharing photos, to stalking that cute girl in your History class, Facebook’s nearly ubiquitous presence on college campuses is astounding. The possibilities are seemingly limitless and the Web site continues to evolve, sometimes taking baby steps, and sometimes taking enormous leaps and bounds-ironically causing more student outrage at Miami University than any “real” issue in recent memory besides power outages.

Now that Facebook is open to anyone and everyone with an e-mail address, professors and employers can create an account in minutes and see what their students or prospective employees are really like outside the classroom.

I don’t really mind my professors perusing my vacation photos (although that is a little weird), and I can deal with keeping my account clean enough to pass the test of future employers.

However, there is one place where I have to draw the line-one place too bizarre, too strange and just plain awkward.

My mother is on Facebook and she wants to be my friend.

Reject friend request. Sorry, Mom.

Call me heartless, think what you want, but it’s just something I’ve got to do.

Let me explain a little about how we reached this moment. My mom often substitute teaches nursing, English and other subjects at Vantage Vocational School in small-town Van Wert, Ohio. Apparently, she’s gotten to know her students well enough that they felt the need to sign her up for Facebook and show her how to search for my brother and me.

To make matters worse, my brother accepted her invitation to become friends while I rejected it. Harassment ensued. For just about the entirety of winter break, I had to explain repeatedly why we cannot be friends on Facebook. I just do not believe that my mother needs to see pictures of my college friends and me hanging out, our messages back and forth between each other or what events I’ll be attending this weekend. If she desperately needs to know, she can ask me-a fact I repeatedly made clear over break. It’s not as if I am trying to hide anything, it’s just that becoming Facebook friends with my mother seems to cross an imaginary line that I don’t want to cross.

“But your brother added me,” my mom will complain. Although my brother and I did everything together and in exactly the same way when we were kids, I just can’t do that now. My brother lives 2,000 miles away in Las Vegas and he’s not in college anymore. I understand why they are Facebook friends-it’s far easier with his crazy work schedule to send a quick message via Facebook than to call home and chat for hours.

For better or worse, Facebook is not just the domain of college kids anymore. My aunts, uncles, high school teachers and even my great aunt Marie now have Facebook accounts and are using them to find old friends and keep in contact with loved ones thousands of miles away. I think that is fantastic and a perfect use for this technology, but it still does not make me feel any better about my mother being on Facebook. I don’t know why, but that is just a fact too outlandish to comprehend. It takes the woman forever to type an e-mail, upload digital photos to a computer or buy something off the Internet, yet here she is, surfing all over Facebook and loving every minute.

Maybe that speaks to the simplicity, ease of use and true genius of Facebook. Its audience runs the gamut from 13-year-old, awkward junior high kids to geriatric nursing home patients-all trying to keep in touch with others across town or halfway around the world.

Who knows if I’ll be able to befriend my mother on Facebook after graduation. I suppose only time will tell, but I’ll probably relent some day after enough harassment. It’s not the end of the world, after all. I’m just dreading the day my father creates a profile as well. That really could be a sign of the apocalypse.

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