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Family Politics

Last month, I refused my grandmother’s Facebook friend request. It was no cavalier decision – we’re talking hours of internal debate. Pros: Better access to pie recipes and regular updates about Mississippi tide levels. Cons: I would have to constantly explain lolcats and Rickrolling, apologize for the lewd comments of my virtual friends, and defend the politically progressive links I tend to post. The tiebreaker came in the form of an e-mail my grandmother sent to the entire family. The subject heading was “Remember those that fought and died for this flag too!” and it consisted of a single URL, which led to a digital history of… wait for it… the Confederate Flag. My mother summed it up best in a one-line reply: “What is wrong with my parents??” What indeed? Clearly I couldn’t have any rogue racists on my Facebook page (I mean, ones I didn’t go to high school with), so I respectfully declined the friend request and swore not to mention the Internet at future family gatherings. But the Facebook refusal has lingered, specifically because my grandmother is not a racist, rogue or otherwise. She’s a beautiful, caring woman and an e-mail like that would have been unimaginable ten years ago. Today though, these types of missives are becoming disturbingly commonplace. Read more