Grandma’s Facebook posts fill gaping social media void

Let me start by saying that I do like my family. I do. 

But in this age of social connection 24/7, where every little thing goes online, it’s hard because most people say and do stupid things online. 

Grandma Traxler has a Facebook profile. She’s probably had it for about two years now. She has 74 friends on her profile and she’s the funniest and most realistic person I’m friends with.

On Sunday, she finally added a profile picture and Facebook’s contrived profile picture stepbrother, the cover photo. The profile picture, for example, has Grandpa and Grandma and their three sons and their three wives. The profile picture has become our gateway into an online social world. If they say that you have eight seconds to make a first impression, you have even less time online. You’re scrolling through online and most times, you’re not reading their biography on Twitter or LinkedIn, for example. Your judgment is coming from that super small pixelated portrait of one’s self. If you’ve never judged someone based solely on the stupid face they have on their Twitter profile, you’re probably a liar. 

Grandma Traxler is only a microcosm of the fine folks, usually family or friends, who are not that in tune with ups and downs of technology in the 21st Century. Grandma said she didn’t know how to change her profile picture before and I actually believe it. But she’s also the first person I remember having a computer as I was growing up, doing office work on an old Macintosh in the mid-90s, which I used to play Tom Landry Strategy Football. She’s always known how to get the mailing labels to print and how to run fairly complex spreadsheets. 

Throw in all of the aunts and uncles and cousins showing off their self-importance and it can certainly be a lot to take in. I do not care about your third cousin’s boyfriend’s grandfather’s 84th birthday. 

It’s not just Grandma. Her oldest son and my father, has put together quite the Twitter account, usually firing during any big sporting events. On Sunday night, as the Minnesota Vikings were getting steamrolled by the rival Green Bay Packers, Dad had a couple of tweets about how the Vikings defense could not get off the field, which he capped with hashtag “fustration.” 

Dad, you crack me up, even from 150-plus miles away. (I’ve always prided myself on being the family’s best speller anyway.)

I’d be lying if I didn’t laugh at most of the stuff he sends out, only because I imagine him saying it. Same for my brother and my mom, who are tweeters too, although much less frequently so. 

So back to Grandma. It’s easy for me to actually make fun but many of her items are worthwhile. She passes along a recipe for a tater tot taco bake on Facebook, which is the 21st century equivalent of sharing a cookbook with a neighbor. She lets everyone in town know about the city blood drive (Tuesday at the American Legion from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.). Instead of updating the picture frames in the house, she shares the photo of her grandchildren for her friends to see. 

If anything, it’s a window into another way to look at social media and what could possibly be called “true sharing.” Grandma doesn’t know any better. There are no frills and they actually want people to see something that means something to them, not some viral photo from the “Ladies Love Country Guys” page or a stupid photo of your cat.

I’ll still laugh when she shares a photo from the Maine State Office of Tourism of their fall foliage because I’m pretty sure Grandma has never been to the state of Maine. But most of what Grandma puts on Facebook is something we usually don’t see today, online or in person: It’s genuine. 

Now … if she finds out I have Twitter, that will be something. 

 

Marcus Traxler is the Editor-in-Chief of The Collegian. He can be reached at [email protected]