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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Facebook is a double-edged sword when it comes to friend-requesting family members. You can keep in touch with parts of your family you've long forgotten, or you can friend them to remember why you stopped talking to them in the first place.

Being friends with your cool, older cousin from Boston who invites you to spend the summer with her in a downtown apartment? Cool.

Being friends with your Aunt Nora who makes a killer homemade applesauce but is otherwise clinically insane? Tragic.

The general rule of thumb is that friending your cousin is acceptable - friending an aunt and anyone over the age of 40 is a serious taboo.

If you know your uncle or grandparent has a Facebook, don't seek their friend requests. Instead, lay low and hope they don't realize you have an account, too.

If you happen to fall into the trap of receiving a friend request from a crazy relative (or anyone who would tattle to your parents about your photographs), it's important to be diplomatic in your approach to the problem.

Facebook is riddled with bits of personal information that, when placed in the hands of relatives, can be catastrophic.

While your friends might not care that you attended a lingerie party on Saturday, Grandma Tabitha probably would take offense. She might not be able to figure out how to forward the pictures to your parents, but don't bet on it.

What do you do? You can't decline unless you legitimately hate your relative and aren't afraid to make those feelings known.

This basically leaves you with two choices: accept them unconditionally or accept and assign them to an abridged account.

The latter is usually the wiser of the two if the relative in question is significantly older, not "chill" and extremely conservative. Younger siblings who have no place knowing what you really do on weekends at school also fall into this category of Facebook pariahs.

The first point of access to restrict for the pariahs is the photo application. Remove their access to any photos of you unless you have specifically cleared them and deemed them to be rated PG.

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Next, it's usually a good idea to restrict wall posts, or to at least scan through the last few pages of posts. You might appreciate the video your roomie sent you that mocks a well-known family quirk, but Uncle Chuck might not share your enthusiasm.

If you enjoy shaking up the family tree (and possibly losing some of the branches), you can accept your relatives' friend requests, grant them full access to your profile and see what happens. This is especially fun and effective if you and your immediate family members are the black sheep of the extended family and tensions are high.

Aunt Nora and Uncle Chuck would certainly adore those pictures of your keg stand, and the subsequent photos of you running a naked lap after losing in beer pong would definitely make them want to invite you to this summer's reunion in Wyoming.

Morgan Nederhood is a student at Marist College.

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