Thanks for everything, mom (except the email forwards)

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The “Your Irreplaceable Mom Sweepstakes” we just launched got me thinking about how great my mom is. I can never thank her enough for all time and effort she put into making sure I was warm, fed and educated.

Now, I’d like to repay her for all of her heartfelt goodness by slightly embarrassing her in public.
My mom has never been afraid of technology. When we got our first Atari 2600, she finished Frogger before me or my brother. From the early days of AOL, she’s fearlessly surfed the net, battling her way through incredibly slow modem speeds, occasional viruses and assorted tech support nightmares. And she’s never once thrown a PC out the window.

I admire my mom’s fearlessness. (How could I not? In the 70s it got her the Showcase Showdown of the Price is Right.) But her it willingness to try anything can get her in a little trouble online.

When she first got her PC, she filled out every form that she found on the Internet. In about two months, her email was overflowing with so much spam that she had to close it down. (I think this happened to everyone’s mom.)

Since then she’s gotten a broadband connection and become a savvier about the web. Still there are certain things she does that make me batty. And I only feel comfortable pointing out in public. (I just hope she doesn’t feel the need to publicly respond with a blog of her own about my foibles because I’ve heard—about a million times—that I didn’t grasp the concept of toilet training quickly.)

So with all due respect, a lot of love and deep sense that I’m ruining my prospects for a good birthday present, here are 5 things I wish my mom would change about how she uses the Internet.

1. Take your home address off you email signature.
My mom is ahead of the curve when it comes to location-based technology. Forget Foursquare, my mom just puts her home address on every email she sends. Mom, email is not anywhere near as secure as you might think (especially because you use your dog’s name for every password).  Don’t let the bad guys know where you live.

2. You can stop forwarding me (and everyone you know) emails you did not write.
Mom, it’s nice that you’re always thinking of me. But when you send me cute, funny, ridiculous emails that you are also sending to my aunt, your cousin in Chicago and everyone you play Mah Jong with, it’s a little annoying. And when everyone on the list hits “reply all”, I have to practice deep breathing to avoid a stroke. The Internet is an amazing thing. You can be sure if there is any news, joke or conspiracy I need to know about, I’ll find it. And if it’s important enough, just send it straight to me!

3. Please be careful what you install.
My mom, like millions of people around the globe, has chosen to install scareware on her computer. An alert box came up, and my mom clicked OK. And bam, she was infected. Now, she only did this because the same process had worked for her several times. It’s how she got Flash and Quicktime. But this time, she got scammed.  So, Mom, one bad Google result can create a small disaster on your PC.  So only install a program if you know exactly what it is and what it does. Google the program’s name or email me – directly! – if you aren’t sure.

4. I don’t want to be your Facebook friend.
Millions of people must have figured out how to have a healthy relationship with their families on social networks like Facebook and MySpace. But to me, it’s just weird. I feel bad if I don’t comment on everything. I wonder, Who are these strangers writing LOL on my mom’s updates? Also, she is too willing to quizzes using apps, which, in the past, opened my information to the makers of the application whether I liked it or not. So sorry, Mom, I only use Facebook to keep in touch with old work and college friends.

5. I wish you were on Twitter.
I wish the whole world were on Twitter. It’s a quick peek into what they are doing/thinking about.  And I subscribe to the accounts I don’t want to miss on in my Google Reader. It’s light and it’s fun and it’s easy. Mom, please get on Twitter so I can keep up with you without feeling obligated to respond to every single update.

Being my mom can’t be easy (especially since it makes you ineligible to win two Canon cameras in our new sweepstakes). So thanks, again, for everything you’ve done and do. Besides these 5 little things, you’re perfect.

With love,
Jason

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4 Comments

I don’t mind my mother being on my facebook page – after all, you can put people into groups and I’m willing to share more with my mother than I am with my colleagues (for example).

However, I’m completely with you on points 1-3. I can’t stand the sentimental photos and bad greeting card poetry that gets forwarded to me and everyone else on my mum’s address book. Sadly, if I mention them to her she tells me that “she thinks they’re cute”, so I am just going to have to keep my e-mail protection up to date.

Being connected to my mom also connects me, in a way, to my entire childhood now that everyone in the world is on Facebook. I think I’m probably narrowing my view too much when I could use groups. Great point!

I think the email forwarding thing will never end because most of us just would rather not hurt our moms’ feelings. But I do like being in the loop enough to get a peek at how Boomers use the net.

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