An open letter to the dad on social media

Art by Gianne Encarnacion

Dear Dad,

They say that parents shouldn’t be your friends. Let’s add some 21st-century subtext to that: Maybe parents shouldn’t be your Facebook friends — or, God forbid, the friends of your Facebook friends. Unfortunately for my generation, it’s trendy among dads (as you know) to be both.

While Mom’s the patron of celebratory PicCollages, you’re the saint of embarrassing snapshots. Why you consider a picture of anyone mid-chew an appropriate birthday greeting, I have no idea. That’s not cute, Dad. Neither is that pap of me asleep in transit. I sure didn’t think things through when I taught you how to tag people.

You would say, Hey kid, you look great here, check out all these likes! But your point is moot and you know it. You deliberately shun cheesy captions for stuff that will curry favor with the young ’uns… at my expense. Hate to break it to you, but my friends like your posts because they like seeing me embarrassed. You’re supposed to defend me instead of feeding their sadism.

Your need to impress wins over fatherly responsibility — and not just in your birthday posts. If titas use the comments section to touch base (kumusta-you’re-so-big-na, atbp.), you use it to prove how you’re oh-so-witty. There, your clapbacks range from mild (“Anak…ano ’to?”) to absolutely savage on the best of profile pics (“Buti na-thread ’yung mga kilay na ’yan.”).

Your Facebook persona, however, can only hide so much. Here’s what I witness beyond the screen: a middle-aged guy, deciding out loud whether to use a laughing cat emoji or a crying face. Some days, you’ll ask me about “haha” versus “hehe” and opt for a slightly creepier “teeheehee.” Or “bwahaha” when you’re feeling particularly smug. You consult me for advice on millennialisms, then break the rules yourself. Status update? A grown man trying to roll with the times (and kids less than half his age).

You’ll have to forgive me for stating the obvious. But forgive me too, Father, for attempting to mute your private messages after the nth health article received. I see enough of them on my News Feed, courtesy of you and Mom. I don’t need your Blogspot links to tell me that fast food is unhealthy, that sleeping late sucks, et cetera. It’s even worse when you use similarly sketchy sites to preach politics. The Internet is a vast and dangerous place, especially for well-meaning fathers who want to inform everyone about everything.

You’re someone whose social media tactics have turned into plain old social media antics. You’re a living, breathing meme, the star of many funny stories. I’ve come to expect those moments that reveal you as a complete dork online. I just try to think about their subtext: how you remember me in the articles you read, how you want me to sleep earlier for my sake, all that sentimental jazz.

My friend recently sent me a video of her dad dabbing. (It’s a dance move; look it up — on second thought, please don’t.) “My dad,” she said, “has gone to the dank side.” Well, haven’t you all, in this crazy digital age? But to you Dad, and your good intentions, I surrender. Heart reacts only, always. And I hope I don’t have to explain that to you anymore.

Sincerely,
Your sometimes-frustrated, ever-loving millennial

P.S. Mom, some parts of this letter may or may not apply to you, too. You know best.

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#family

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