The other day I logged into LinkedIn to find that my father had endorsed me in not one, but five skills. He thinks I’m a great blogger, by the way.
I Instagrammed a new pair of Jeffrey Campbell boots, 10 minutes later, my dad made a snide comment asking just how many pairs of shoes is it that I own now?
If I tweet that I want to eat an entire bag of chips and cry into a glass of Pinot Grigio, my dad immediately tweets me back asking if I need a hug and or a talk. And as if I was somehow confused about who was tweeting me, he makes sure to sign his tweet "Love, dad."
My father cyber stalks me.
Like most stalkers would say, his need to follow my every move comes from a place of love. Yes, my dad loves me. In that smothering kind of way.
Social media and technology are a huge part of my relationship with my father. About two years ago, my parents divorced. My father moved out of the family house. He was only a 15-minute walk away but the distance had wedged itself in the middle of our family.
When my father and I lived in the same house, I would come home after work and we would spend 15 minutes talking about my asshole boss. It wasn’t a long time, but it was how we bonded. My wanting his opinion and needing his insight was a way me of making dependent again and he liked taking care of me. With my father living in an apartment a couple of blocks away, this doesn’t happen.
Instead of being a flesh-and-blood human, there in person to listen to me complain about the dickhead that runs my department, my father has become a small thumbnail icon that comments on all my social media moves. My dad follows me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Tumblr. In his absence from the house, my father has now inserted himself into my life via social media. Now, it’s like he never even left! Or, more like, he is always with me, all. the. time.
My father’s social media usage is not limited to my posts. He’ll happily comment on my work’s Instagrams to tell me how much he loves me and how proud he is of me. Yes, it’s sweet. Yes, it’s incredibly embarrassing. How many women, who are supposedly young professionals have their fathers write them loving and inspiring messages on a picture of them working in the office? Because yes, that did happen.
My dad loves a good joke. In his old age, his sense of humour has changed from biting and sarcastic to the type of humour reserved for wrinkly men on the bus who pull coins out of your ear. My father is the king of dad humour and has no qualms about doing so publically. He even brings my friends on in it. He happily tweets them about how great their new hat looks on them and adds a HILARIOUS pun in there.
"Hats a good look for you!" he'll write. Good one dad, good one.
Friends actually get a huge kick out of it. They intentionally follow him. I’ve had acquaintances ask me who this "insert his username here" guy is and why he keeps commenting on my posts. With a resigned sigh, I respond, "That would be my dad."
“Is it though?”
When my father moved out, I cried because I didn’t want him to be in a dank basement alone. I tried to visit him as often as I could. Once a week, I would stop by his place and have a cup of coffee with him. But when that goddamn sinister little bird notification pops up, I cringe.
As a 24-year-old woman, when your father emails you throughout the day at work with links to kitten videos or to ask what you've been up to and texts you every night to make sure you’re alright, my god does that ever make you want to not see him.
Whether on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, it feels like I talk to my dad ALL DAMN DAY LONG. And after all that talk, I don’t want to speak to him anymore. I love my dad but I’ve reached my limit. His sweetly suffocating messages make it so I have an active online relationship, but it’s killed our real life one. Our relationship has become a matter of comments, likes and favorites.
After a long day of comments, if I see a text from him, I'll ignore it. I used to have an automated text app that would message him at 11 pm everyday saying goodnight, so I wouldn't have to. I haven’t seen my dad in a few weeks. The guilt is racking up. Quite honestly, I feel like an ungrateful bitch. But I just can’t. He means well but it's too much.
I know that things could be worse and I'd rather my father be over-protective than not be present at all but I can't help feeling like his constant watch over me online will be the ruin of our relationship. I want to throw my laptop across the room when I get a Facebook message from my father. Yes, it feels wonderful to know my father loves me, but is it so awful and wrong to wish he loved me jussssstttt a little less?