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Mom, if you're reading this? Please go away!
March 16, 2011 7:01 PM   Subscribe

My mother stalks me online and it bothers me. How do I get her to stop. Or, an easier question: How do I stop letting it bug me so much?

My mother somehow found my twitter account and now whenever I tweet about something, she calls or texts me within minutes to 'coincidentally' talk about it. Example: when I posted something after my annual review at work, three minutes later, there was a text from her saying "Hi honey, did you have your review yet?" It happens all the time and it's making me a little crazy.

My twitter account is public and I haven't tried to hide it or anything, but no one else I know has managed to find it--or at least not as far as I can tell. And honestly, it would bother me less if she just wasn't so obvious about it. I'm not posting anything on it that I care about her reading but it makes me feel like she's standing over me in the lunch room at high school or something. I just don't want to feel so guarded every time I post something online.

It's not limited to twitter. She's ferreted out pretty much every other place I've left a mark online, even things under different email addresses/pseudonyms. Sometimes when I visit her, she's left the browser in her room opened to some random page/profile of mine and I've noticed things in her browser history when using her computer. Once in high school, she somehow found a blog I thought was secret and ended up freaking out on me because I used a swear word and said something not nice about her (nothing terrible or nasty, just a complaint about her grounding me for no reason (which I still stand by, damn it)). That was about 8 years ago and since then she's never mentioned anything about her internet sleuthing finds, and I haven't said anything because I just don't know what to say or if there's even a point. It didn't matter to me that much before the offline twitter "replies" started happening all the time.

We have a pretty good relationship, but she's super sensitive and my knee-jerk snarky responses to this would probably just make her cry. I realize at some level that she likely just wants to be more involved in my life, but I already talk to her every couple days and tell her what's going on way more than a lame one-liner on twitter. In fact, I talk to her more than anyone except my husband and best friend. So why is she one who has to religiously follow every move I make online?

Should I say something? Just ignore it? Start tweeting about my salacious sex life? Make my account(s) private? Give up the internet for good? Help!

(This question is anonymous because she stalks me on here too!)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (40 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Keep these accounts open for her to read. Start new ones elsewhere, with brand new handles. If you would hate to do that because you have a large readership... then I am afraid you are going to have to either ignore this, or discuss it with her.
posted by jenlovesponies at 7:09 PM on March 16, 2011


If she's "somehow" finding all your sites in some unknown way I'd seriously consider re-installing your OS from scratch, to ensure there's no spying software. You should also look for any hardware keyloggers if you use a desktop.
posted by odinsdream at 7:13 PM on March 16, 2011 [15 favorites]


The other thing: Make sure your security questions for email or other places where account information goes aren't trivially easy for her to answer.
posted by jangie at 7:17 PM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


She needs a new project. What sort of stuff does she enjoy? Can you recommend some local groups for her to join / get her some new equipment or books to fawn over?

PS If she sees you as 'her masterpiece' for some reason (eg cultural), this is not going to work...in that case, have THE TALK.
posted by fix at 7:19 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had a low-level problem like this when my mom finally found my livejournal. I ended up making public decoy posts about not much and keeping everything else private/filtered. I do the same with facebook. What jenlovesponies says.

She might be hungry for "secrets" about your life. You might want to make a point about sharing some news with her first, and see if that satsifies her so that she doesn't need to stalk you. I sometimes parcel news out to my mom or sister - "I'm telling you this first and so-and-so doesn't know". It makes them feel special, even if it's a small thing. Save some news to tell her first and wait a day before tweeting or telling anyone else.
posted by griselda at 7:19 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Try like, calling your mom more often. She's lonely and bored.
posted by empath at 7:31 PM on March 16, 2011 [18 favorites]


empath, the OP says that she talks to her mom every couple of days. Talking to her more is a bit much to ask for a grown-up, no?

OP, I think you just need to talk to her about this. Maybe write it in an email if she's sensitive when you talk to her on the phone, but just explain that you love talking to her and telling her about your life, but you'd appreciate if she left your internet presence alone, as it's not meant to be a trigger for conversations or text messages. Or, if she enjoys reading about your life via Twitter, you can ask her if she can save her comments for your usual phone conversations instead of texting you about them. (For what it's worth, she is probably getting notifications via text from Twitter on her phone, which might make her feel like she needs to text you OMGRIGHTNOW.)

It sounds like she means well. She just doesn't get that "posting stuff on the internet" doesn't equal "have a conversation about this topic right now". I know people like this, and you just have to explain it to them until they get it.
posted by bedhead at 7:42 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


My mom's a little like this. She treats every Facebook post like it's me saying something to her personally, and often replies with randomness (My post: "I can't wait for the day cold fusion is a reality!" Her comment: "Will you be coming over for dinner on Friday?")

It helps a whole lot when I direct stuff her way - comments, Twitter mentions, LinkedIn contact suggestions. By giving her stuff to munch on, it reduces the apparent temptation to take over everything I say online.

Which isn't to say it goes away completely. I have no idea how you can do anything inoffensive that also says "please stop reading what I put out in public, person who gave birth to me." At least not when it's someone who thinks it's a good idea to hunt down every last account you have, everywhere.
posted by SMPA at 7:49 PM on March 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Talk to her. Just sit her down and have the talk. Don't try to hide from her. She'll only feel betrayed.

Also, be grateful your mom cares this much.
posted by SirOmega at 7:56 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I'm reading this correctly, it sounds like your mother has found your "personal" accounts, and although you don't mind her knowing the person details, you're uncomfortable that she thinks it's OK to read your personal stuff without asking your first or even telling you about it. This seems like logical reaction to a weird situation.

The next time she mentions something you tweeted about, call her on it. "Oh, did you see that on my Twitter?" Then send her a link. That way, you can be open and honest. Then, go switch your Facebook settings so that she can only see certain things (maybe she can see status updates, but not photos). You can then have your own boundaries set while accepting that your mom is an adult, and you are an adult, and you're living in a society of adults that interact regularly online.
posted by samthemander at 7:58 PM on March 16, 2011 [15 favorites]


I would take one of two tacks, depending on my relationship with the person involved.

Tack 1
Post something fake that there could be no other reason for her to guess. Something like "Decided to become a vegetarian", or conversely, "decided to start eating meat". If she calls you, deny it, asking what ever made her think that. Rinse and repeat.

Tack 2
Just keep posting as you normally would. Make this her problem. If, for example, you post "Oh wow totally wasted last night, might call in sick to work" and she calls you asking "how are you feeling? A bit tired?" Just repsond "oh yeah you saw the tweet... yeah big night last night!".
posted by Admira at 8:01 PM on March 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


Ugh, I've dealt with this. The problem with Twitter is that you're writing in a forum that is publicly accessible, so it's hard to explain why you'd want your tweets to be read by everyone EXCEPT your mother.

The way I see it, every form of communication has its own form of etiquette, and in the online world, what your mother is doing is just plain bad manners. Instead of finding her own online community to participate in, she's butting in and eavesdropping on yours. Since she doesn't understand this, you could try explaining it to her in real-world terms.

"Mom, when I interact with people on Twitter, it's kind of like talking to people at a cocktail party. What you're doing is kind of like sneaking into the parties I go to, hiding behind the couch, eavesdropping on my conversations, and then bringing them up with me later. Do you agree that it would be rude if you did that in real life? Well, I find it rude when you do it online."

Keep explaining until she gets it. It's not about privacy (because Twitter is not private), it's about good manners. It's rude to take information that you overheard in one context and use it for conversation in another.
posted by embrangled at 8:09 PM on March 16, 2011 [23 favorites]


My mom used to do the same thing, and what made it stop is that I eventually became very bored with sharing the details of my life with the online public and quit. I still blog, but only occasional posts about my professional life, which doesn't interest her much. And she still "likes" nearly everything I post on Facebook. I've decided I'm okay with that.
posted by milk white peacock at 8:14 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


hmmm...you should start tweeting about your new stalker...leaking out the details..."they follow me around online constantly!"..."my stalker has been calling me again... as usual, right after i post something online."..."just found out my stalker is a 55-year-old woman who OMG, lives in the same neighborhood as my MOTHER!!!" and etc.

srsly, tho...what yr mom is doing is creepy and weird. sounds to me like you've set all this up online to hang out with your friends, and now your mother won't leave the slumber party. Block her. Defriend her. Explain it afterwards. "look mom, sorry about that, but i didn't know how to talk to you about it...see, the internet is for my work and friends...for my mother to be following me around there constantly is just creepy and weird. when i have news for you, i'll call you. you ABSOLUTELY CANNOT be standing over me watching me all the time. it's CREEPY."

of course her feelings will be hurt, but guess what, she'll get over it. however, if you don't block/defriend her, and just have "the Talk", she'll stay away for awhile, but, I GUARANTEE, within 2 weeks she'll be back to tracking you like a deer hunter....trust me, i know.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:26 PM on March 16, 2011


You and she have different social norms about appropriate use of social media, likely due to your differing familiarity and comfort with it. You can't bridge cultural or social gaps through avoidance, only through communication.

If you're struggling to start the conversation with her, tweet this:

"Hi, mom. I don't mind if you read this, but I know you don't want to make me self-conscious talking to my friends, right? Call me!"

Then you can explain the difference between your expectation of social networks and her behavior. The framework you've outlined in your question is just fine.
posted by anildash at 8:48 PM on March 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


Yeah, I have been dealing with this for twenty years now.

I don't care anymore. Hi, Mom. I'll pay the $5 for you to get an account here if you want.

Social networking definitely added a new dimension to it. I explained repeatedly that it is good manners to reply to Facebook whatnot on Facebook, Twitter whatnot on Twitter, etc, and that I only wanted to hear replies to things in those (and similar) spheres, in those spheres. I did have to say it more than once, but that was a big help.

Re. any complaints when Mom has found anything she dislikes: 'you should not have looked at something that was not directed towards you. Bad manners. This is what you get if you stalk, stuff that you might not like.' Certainly don't apologise.

My mother sometimes has trouble distinguishing between real stuff and, you know, nonsense posted for teh lulz. Not that I am a great internet liar, but her sarcasm detector is different. Does yours have this? You can use this to your advantage; confuse her a few times, get her questioning whether or not everything is true.

Mine also feels she is entirely in the right; that if she is able to Google it or track it down via any other means, that is a reasonable thing to do, and it is totally appropriate to comment on it. There is coming over to visit, and there is rifling through the medicine cabinet... I have not been able to disabuse her of these notions and if yours is a bit like that I apologise. I feel bad about my mother's inability to stop this stuff when asked, and maybe some degree of pity would make you feel better? Feel sorry for her for being bored and lonely instead of being frustrated with her.

Good luck...
posted by kmennie at 9:03 PM on March 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


Anildash has it.

You don't get to have a public persona online and prevent your mother from reading it. Either you need to stop having that public persona, or you need to try to set some ground rules with your mom so that she understands that she's making you feel like you're being monitored (or however it's making you feel).
posted by adamrice at 9:06 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really like anildash's answer. I am not an expert, because I really haven't embraced social media. I am not a mother. But I do have a mother.

This is more of a question that I want to answer for myself, but why wouldn't you expect everyone you know to read what you post online? As everyone learns how to use the internet, it becomes easier and easier to be an internet stalker.

I would expect that your mom is just trying to connect with you in a way that is less awkward to her. I admit that it sounds a little creepy, but I would focus on the fact that you have a loving mother who cares about you.
posted by UsernameGenerator at 9:07 PM on March 16, 2011


My mom is the worst about this! She doesn't even have her own Facebook account. Instead she uses my sister's Facebook account (don't ask) to stalk me. In the days of rampant Myspace use, she did the same thing. It got to the point that if she noticed that I didn't log in to Myspace that day, she would start freaking out a little. I told her that that was, well, kind of a problem. I also told her it was a sign that she needed more stuff to do (she's retired). Basically, to get a life. Well, she started going to the gym, going the library, and delivering Meals on Wheels, so she's taken my advice somewhat. I, in turn, have tried to call her more.
posted by medeine at 9:08 PM on March 16, 2011


I found your situation interesting.

My mom seems to have very little interest in me which frustrates me - a lot!

Can we trade moms for a while? lol - just kidding.

But I see where you are coming from too.

Two extremes of the spectrum.

I wonder how your mom would feel if you did the same to her. Maybe she wants/needs attention, not really to bother you.

Maybe spend some quality time??
posted by simpleton at 9:13 PM on March 16, 2011


As a person who is way too old for the internet, it is not at all easy to figure out what the social protocol is. As a mother of adult children, it is also not easy to figure out how to stay involved with them or how to approach them when you're feeling out of touch. It helps me when my son tells me plainly and early (rather than waiting until after he's gotten really frustrated with my not getting it) so I know what I am doing that he doesn't like.

Discussing online behavior in terms of good internet manners seems an excellent tack to take. It's considerate, helpful and not accusatory. Facebook is is own kind of weird; I have read that the average user has 35-45 friends which sounds like far too many to me but a lot of people list hundreds. Unbelievable! What on earth does a FB friend mean, anyway? Facebook is a really good tool for finding distant acquaintances and keeping them at a distance. It's surreal to comment on my son's Facebook post but he's so witty sometimes I do it anyway. I think I'll quit that now.
posted by Anitanola at 10:27 PM on March 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


My mother somehow found my twitter account and now whenever I tweet about something, she calls or texts me within minutes to 'coincidentally' talk about it. Example: when I posted something after my annual review at work, three minutes later, there was a text from her saying "Hi honey, did you have your review yet?" It happens all the time and it's making me a little crazy.

Your mom is at the nuttier end of this being "reasonable behavior". But it still is reasonable...and it is NOT stalking.

People who are being stalked keep their info away from the public. What you are basically saying is: I want to post my info everywhere for everyone to see...but I don't want my mom to bother me about it.

Doesn't work that way.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:30 PM on March 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


I would either start new accounts that are private while keeping the old ones open as a decoy, or else make your current accounts private and gently explain.

I wanted to let my mom stay updated when I went to Minnesota last year, so I started a Tumblr account for the trip just so I wouldn't have to give her my Twitter profile.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:14 AM on March 17, 2011


I'd be completely annoyed if anyone, including my mother, did this to me. Taking into consideration her long history of monitoring your internet activities and your description of how she does it, I'd judge a conversation as unlikely to be very productive.

I say lock it down. Private Twitter, Facebook privacy controls, new accounts elsewhere. You say her behavior drives you crazy, I think that's pretty much your only effective choice.
posted by empyrean at 1:16 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's two separate issues here, one is that your mom is following you around the internet to see what you're up to. The second is that after she finds out what's going on, she calls you up for these weird not-so-spontaneous conversations about whatever it is you've just posted. Are these both the problem? Or is it just one or the other?

Start engaging your mom on the social media platforms and teach her how to behave appropriately. This will nip all the weird phone calls in the bud. And if there's something you don't want mom to see on the internet, it's best not to post it as we all know that if it's on the internet it's not really secret. But if you just want to make it a bit harder, you need to filter her out of those things.
posted by asciident at 2:39 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some of your mom's behavior is weird. But honestly, she found your public twitter account -- it's a public account, what did you expect? Absent carefully maintained privacy settings, you should expect that everyone you know will read it (in terms of your expectation of privacy).

It's not clear how secret your supposed secret blog was. Did she have to hack your computer or use a keylogger to find it? It seems like there's a good chance you lack awareness of the footprint you're leaving on the web.

And, if mom's behavior is bothering you, have a grown-up, non-confrontational conversation about it.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:01 AM on March 17, 2011


Even to me, from this post, it's pretty unclear what you actually want from her, so I totally believe that it would be hard to communicate it to her in a clear and unlikely to be messy way!

So decide:
- she can read your public postings but you don't want to talk about them with her
- she can read your public postings but you only want to talk about them in the same forum they were posted
- she can read your public postings and she shouldn't be coy about talking about them with you on the phone
- she shouldn't read your public postings (or at least she should pretend not to)

I think all of these things are fair to ask her. I would make it not about her stalking or inappropriateness or over-involvement, but just about you and your own idiosyncratic feelings about what would make you comfortable and could she please help you both have a happy online relationship.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:23 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's two separate issues here, one is that your mom is following you around the internet to see what you're up to. The second is that after she finds out what's going on, she calls you up for these weird not-so-spontaneous conversations about whatever it is you've just posted. Are these both the problem? Or is it just one or the other?

Yup.

I can't tell if issue #1 bothers you. If it does: I'm pretty sure that asking your mom to stop reading stuff about you online will hurt her feelings and she won't stop anyway; she'll just try to make it less obvious that she's doing it. To fix: lock down your various accounts and/or delete your Twitter account entirely (can you make a Twitter account private?). It seems weird to me that you say no one else you know has found your Twitter account. What's the point of having it, then?

If you leave your accounts visible to your mom, you'll need to do something about issue #2. One strategy, mentioned above, is asking her to reply to things the same way she found them: so, if she reads your Facebook status, reply to it by commenting on it on Facebook (or at the very least, sending a Facebook message). I don't use Twitter so I'm not sure if there's corresponding Twitter advice. Regardless, this strategy may solve the problem for you. However, I'm guessing you'll find that you hate the way your mom jumps on every post as soon as it happens (in other words, it may start to drive you nuts that she responds to every single one of your Facebook posts five minutes after you post it). If this happens, I think you have to go back to locking down your accounts.
posted by whitelily at 5:25 AM on March 17, 2011


If the accounts are in your real name or a nickname that you had from your family or your childhood then I'm afraid you have to suck it up.

If the accounts are clearly in adult handles that you have created to be separate from your family, then it's a different matter entirely. Everyone is entitled to have multiple social groups and if your mother is forcing herself into a social group you don't want her in, then it's perfectly reasonable to play pranks on her...

Post about some horrible medical procedure. Or losing your job. Or someone writing off your car. And then, when she rings you to ask about your car or your job, tell her you have no idea what she's talking about - everything is just fine.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 5:42 AM on March 17, 2011


I agree with the posters who said that you need to make clearer which part of what she is doing is annoying you.

For me, it would be the transparency of her actions. I would catch myself thinking "wow mom, do you really think I'm that stupid that I don't notice you following me everywhere online??"

If that's the case, I think you should tell her directly that you know she found you online and that she keeps texting you every time you make a post. She might be embarassed about it, but that's ok. At least this will stop her sneaksing about and you'll both be on the same page.
Also, tell her how you would prefer her to respond once she sees what you've written. She doesn't know, so tell her.

If that doesn't sound like it'll work for you, block her. She won't be able to say anything about it because she doesn't know you know she's been following you. However, it will be one more ploy in a furtive game of tactics, and since I supsect this furtiveness is the part that's been bothering you I'm not sure this will solve the problem.
posted by Omnomnom at 6:04 AM on March 17, 2011


Also, don't play mind games, particularly by posting lies that you know will worry her. Mind games aren't good for anyone's health.
posted by Omnomnom at 6:04 AM on March 17, 2011


As a mother of adult children, I want to come in (partly) on your mom's side. I have a facebook account and I spend more time lurking than participating. I was appalled the first time I saw someone refer to that as "stalking". Stalking is what predators do to victims. I'm not stalking - I'm reading information that was put out in public and (in the case of facebook) I am a member of the group that has been authorized to read this information; I don't have any intentions of harming the author, and I bet your mom does not consider her behavior harmful in any way either.

If your mom's behavior makes you uncomfortable, you need to address it directly. She's not going to "get the hint" if you start posting lies or try to manipulate her behavior. When my daughter agreed to friend me on facebook, she explained quite clearly that she is an adult and that I was not her target audience. She might say things on there that might upset me, but that's a risk that I must assume if I want to be her facebook friend. She made it clear how she wanted me to respond (if at all) and I agreed not to be judgmental or interfering.

So, I agree with the posters talking about manners. Your mom does not know your expectations in online interactions. If it's bothering you, address it openly.
posted by CathyG at 6:53 AM on March 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Once in high school, she somehow found a blog I thought was secret

I'm surprised this hasn't been mentioned. I see two parts to your concerns. One is your feeling that she's stalking you, and yeah, back-pinging you with whatever she hears about you - regardless of source - is at least a little bit, socially inept.

But the other is you seemingly thinking that your tweets and FB postings postings are anything other than totally out-there and public. You're standing in a crowd, shouting things you don't want to hear back from your mother, and you're surprised and put off that she's listening and talking back to you about what she heard.

You may need to have two conversations. One, with her, has been well covered above. The other, with yourself, might involve what you do and do not want to share publicly, and what 'sharing publicly' really means to you.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 6:59 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


But the other is you seemingly thinking that your tweets and FB postings postings are anything other than totally out-there and public. You're standing in a crowd, shouting things you don't want to hear back from your mother, and you're surprised and put off that she's listening and talking back to you about what she heard.
This. Things you post publicly can be found by anyone. That your mom uses them as conversational gambits, while annoying, is because it's there. What's the joke folks usually say about things posted on line or send in an email ? If you don't want it smeared across the front page of the NY Times, don't say/post it.

Now, your mom seems to have boundary or security issues, but that is a separate problem.
posted by k5.user at 7:32 AM on March 17, 2011


Oh come on. She's your mom. Call her.

Sure, keep your boundaries. If she's nagging you and trying to run your life, you need to chat about that. If she's calling and pretending that she hasn't been reading your tweets, yeah that's annoying. Give her permission to read your online postings and let her talk to you about them.

She's probably not used to the idea that you'll share in public more of your life than you do directly with her. She's a generation older than you and that paradigm shift is confusing if not kind of painful for her. So either engage her on social media as just another way to keep up or reach out to her using more 20th century means. Like the telephone. Or a card.

Also try empathy. She's not likely just a bored meddling snooper who has no life of her own. YOU were a big part of her life for many years, and one day you left. She knows that your leaving was the intended design of things all along, but that doesn't make it easy. She needs to know you're safe, that, if you make mistakes, they won't ruin you. She also needs to know that you love and appreciate what she did. You know, she didn't audition for the opera or run off to Paris for that job because she realized that you were more important than what she wanted for herself. She made decisions and sacrifices for years. And after a coupla decades of doing a parenting job she started out not really being prepared for, her only real performance feedback is to see and take joy in the person that left the nest. So yeah, there is a hole in her life. One that she cleared away when she was closer to your age to make room for you.

And now you're out there, tweeting to the world, her child, about this independent life of yours that she helped make happen. Throw your Mom a bone or two, okay? Someday you may be where she is.

(And, hey mom, if you're reading and recognize yourself in this thread. You have a lot of compadres out here who've got your back. Take heart and take care of yourself.)
posted by cross_impact at 8:07 AM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you're the nonconfrontational type, you can start posting stories about twitter etiquette on your twitter account, thusly:

Food for thought: http://tinyurl.com/5lcrqr
Twitter is complicated for users and nonusers alike! http://tinyurl.com/l7ed8m
Twitter stalking: scary! http://tinyurl.com/4hydzqt
Twitter vs. Real Life etiquette: http://tinyurl.com/4nwqfua
posted by juniperesque at 8:31 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The way I would approach this would be to append Hi Mom! at the end of all my public postings. This would do several things for me. First, it would remind me that my mom was probably going to read this. Second, when my mom does read it she knows I know she's following me around. Third, it would alert others who read it that my mom is reading as well (hopefully circumventing any uncomfortable replies). Lastly, it would be something quirky/interesting that could define my online communications, basically a form of acceptance and owning the issue.
Non-mother communications should use either exclusively private communication channels (texting, phone calls, im, etc). If it's something you don't want your mom to know about, but you still want it out in public, the first thing I'd recommend is to really consider if you want to put that information out in a public fashion in the first place.
posted by forforf at 9:45 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


My mom does this in ways that are sometimes appropriate and sometimes not. I have a very public online presence and so I assume she is reading what I write [possibly this] and I just have to live with that unless I want to change my handle and use more subterfuge. However, I've been clear to her that this is not me keeping up with her [I call her rarely, email her more often] and I'm not looking for constant feedback from her about my online life. I think she has trouble with boundaries (she'd be the diary reading type if I still lived at home) and so I've just made it clear what my boundaries are.

In short, she can read what she wants, but I'm not going to deal with sort of constant ootchy "How did that thing I just learned about go???" messages from her. We communicate as often as we communicate and I don't interact with her in the sort of speedy way that I do with my friends using social media. I've told her, please, to keep away from MeFi [as far as joining and participating] because it would put me in an awkward position since this is also my workplace. I've also been clear that if she doesn't like what I say on my blog [which is pretty prosaic really] she'll just have to lump it, that I'm not looking for or desirous of her approval or input. I'll delete her comments from my facebook wall if they're in appropriate. I'd do the same with a friend who was crossing lines.

So, it seems like for you it's her freaking out that is really the problem. I'd basically find a time to talk to her about it, lay out some "this is how this is going to work" conversation with her, something along the lines of "Mom, I love you but I can't have you holding me to some standard that is not mine when you read my online comments. You're welcome to read what I write, but I'd prefer if you didn't immediately reply with your own opinions on my opinions. If you have questions or comments, let's save it for our weekly phone call" or something. Best of luck.
posted by jessamyn at 11:24 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a deeper problem here that others have touched on. Even without you explicitly saying so, I think it's a fairly safe assumption that your mother lives alone, doesn't work (retired?), doesn't have many friends and spends a great deal of time on the internet. So basically she has only two hobbies: the internet and you.

Next time you visit her I would frame the conversation around what her interests are, what interested her previously and how she generally spends her day. Try and find her some additional hobbies, some local groups she could join (it's cheesy, but my parents absolutely love barbershop singing, which keeps them very busy), encourage her to get out into the world as much as you can.

Eventually, her life will be too full to worry to much about your twitter posts on what you had for lunch. Believe me, I know how hard it is to shift people that are set in their ways, but once you break that initial inertia things tend to change for the better.
posted by smithsmith at 1:52 PM on March 17, 2011


re: sensitive approach

I assume you appreciate her involvement; you talk to her second (third) only to your husband and best friend. Start with that. Maybe she thinks it's what you want, or need. Maybe she wishes her mother was more attentive and is in that 'all the things I never had' mode.

You won't know until you ask her. And that's my second point. Before jumping into 'you're suffocating me, I need space, please let's not do the social media thing..' I'd probe for the reasons as to why she's doing it. That way you can build a more convincing argument, and hopefully she's notice that you're trying to help, not accuse or demonize.

I have some overly sensitive family members as well, so all of my empathy to you.
posted by aca.int at 11:50 PM on January 23, 2012


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