Let us paint you a little scenario. You get a friend request from someone on Facebook. Her name sounds familiar, but at first you can't place it. Is it the quiet but cute girl in the back of your English class? The overeager clerk at the video store? Someone your friend might have mentioned? And then it hits you: it's granny.
If this hasn't happened to you yet, it's becoming increasingly likely that it will soon. In the first quarter of this year, Facebook use by women over the age of 55 increased by 550%. What this means is that you have to be 5.5 times more careful when accepting a friend request from people with old-timey names like Eleanor and Grace, even if those are also the names of the most popular girls in your class.
It's bad enough that your parents check out your Facebook page in between keeping in touch with their high school friends, but what's Nana going to think when she discovers what you've been up to online? And it's not like you can block her, because your parents are still after you to write her a thank-you note for the ten bucks she sent you for your birthday. Awkward.
To be fair, it might not be that bad. You know how you have to clean your room before Grandma comes to visit? Same deal here. Just clear out your wall and your photos of anything incriminating, and update your status to "SO EXCITED TO BE FRIENDED BY GRANNY!" so that your friends know to behave. She'll poke her head in, say something sweet, and forget to ever come back. We're talking about a demographic that tries to send e-mails using Microsoft Word's Letter Wizard function, after all. And just like your bedroom, your cyberspace can go back to normal after a week or two.
But while she's there, don't forget to post a note to her wall thanking her for the cash. Two birds, one stone. Now you can get back to your online life, and look forward to the far-off day when you can make your own grandkids uncomfortable by signing onto their Holographic DNA Virtual MindMap or whatever.
How do you deal with uncomfortable familial intrusions on your online life?