Tag Archives: Obama

Islamophobia and Republican Restless Lip Syndrome

Here’s a tip:  If even Pat Buchanan (yes, the same crazy geezer who called Hitler “an individual of great courage” and said America was built by white folks) thinks you “went too far” with your comments on any given subject, chances are you did.  The comments that sparked the disapproving words? Last week, Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich called the backers of the Cordoba House “Ground Zero Mosque”, “radical Islamists” and helpfully offered: “Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the holocaust museum in Washington.”

Despite Pat Buchanan’s rebuke, Gingrich hasn’t completely won the prize for “Most Ridiculous Republican” in the Ground Zero Mosque debate. Sarah Palin has done her level best in pontificating on the question of whether the moderate Iman, Feisal Abdul Rauf, should be allowed to proceed with plans to build the community center (which includes meeting rooms, a pool, a fitness center, a basketball court, a restaurant and culinary school, a library, a 500-seat auditorium, a mosque and a Sept. 11 memorial.)  Wordsmith that she is, Palin fired off a flock of tweets on July 16th, starting with a call, directed specifically at the “peaceful Muslims” to “refudiate” the Ground Zero Mosque efforts.  Her use of the (admittedly helpful) non-existent word must have touched a raw nerve with someone on Team Palin who still had not gotten over her demand that the Obamas “refudiate” the NAACP for claims that the Tea Party is racist.  The tweet was deleted and this time, the “Peaceful New Yorkers” of the twitosphere were awkwardly exhorted to “refute” the construction project.  As if this wasn’t enough punishment, we were all then treated to this tweet: “Refudiate,” “misunderestimate,” “wee-wee’d up.” English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!”  The tipping point had been reached and the flood of tweets that ensued sent #ShakesPalin to Twitter’s trending topics and created a brand new Twitter account, @ShakesPalin.

And the Republican bluster didn’t stop there.  Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty who has a significant Muslim population in his state, would not back down from this claim that the building of the Ground Zero Mosque would “degrade and disrespect” Ground Zero. Mitt Romney chimed in via a spokesperson about “the wishes of the families of the deceased and the potential for extremists to use the mosque for global recruiting and propaganda” in opposing it.  Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee threw in his two cents with this question:  “Is it just that we can offend Americans and Christians, but not foreigners and Muslims?”

I never thought I would miss Bush but, to his credit, he always stressed that Islam was a religion of peace.  In fact, following Obama’s defending the rights of the backers of the disputed construction to the right to “build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” former Bush aides were some of the only visible Republicans to support him in the midst of huge conservative criticism.  To replace Bush-era Republican courting of Muslims, we now have conservative leaders like Gingrich who also said: “There should be no mosque near ground zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.”

If the current Republican leadership wants to abandon the party’s formerly peaceful stance and continue stoking anti-Islamic sentiment among their ranks, perhaps they could turn against their own sensitivities and take a lesson from a Frenchman. Far right politician Jean-Marie Le Penn has peddled his on-crack Islamophobia in France for years. Gingrich could arrange for an American version of Le Penn’s propaganda on handy posters like this one (created by Le Penn’s National Front party) that features a fully-veiled woman standing next to a map of France with the pattern of the Algerian flag on it and the words: “Non à “l’Islamisme” (No to Islamism).  The posters have drawn furious debate in France and the Algerian government has voiced its displeasure.
But then, the lippy contingent in American conservativism has never needed the French to draw international haters.  “We are handing al Qaeda a propaganda coup, an absolute propaganda coup,” with the Islamic-center controversy, said Evan Kohlmann, an independent terrorism consultant at Flashpoint Partners who monitors jihadist websites. (The Wall Street Journal).  The article claims that Islamic radicals are justifying their violent threats by citing the American anti-Muslim rhetoric over the Cordoba Project and, other anti-Islamic rhetoric that has been building stateside.  A prime example is Pastor Terry Jones of Dove World Outreach Center (a mega-church in Gainesville, Fla.) who is planning a Sept. 11 “International Burn a Koran Day” where he plans to defy even his local fire department (who refused to issue him a permit for his event) in the act of intolerant stupidity that has elicited comments like this one on radical Islamic sites:

“Now, I wish to bomb myself in this church as revenge for the sake of Allah’s talk. And here I register my name here that I want to be an intended-martyr.”

Stay tuned for more of these friendly messages as American conservative leaders continue the downward spiral of anti-Islamic rhetoric stateside.



Bjorn Karlman

Yes We Can (Bash Obama): UK Anger Over Obama’s Assault on BP

Remember John McCain’s “Obama fame” epiphany during the 2008 presidential elections? His negative ad pegged Obama as out of touch and the “world’s biggest celebrity”, pejoratively splicing in clips of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton with crowd shots of Obama rallies as the Democratic contender drew record numbers both at home and internationally.  Reactions abounded. Paris Hilton struck back with this parody ad about the “wrinkly white haired guy”, the “oldest celebrity in the world”.  The media was abuzz as, at least temporarily, the message of Obama’s supposedly counterproductive celebrity seemed to stick with some voters. But ultimately the roadblock proved incapable of doing any real damage and the young Democrat rode his wave of popularity all the way to a very decisive November 4th win.  The raw celebratory energy worldwide was palpable.  Gone was the bumbling, trigger-happy Texan who had infuriated world citizenry with his failure of a foreign policy and the near-sighted disaster of an economic policy that had brought the world to its knees. Impossibly high expectations and desperate hopes for something far better were pinned on the new guy. Conservatives prayed for the bubble to burst while liberals crossed themselves, willing global patience with the new administration.

Skip to the present.  As fickle as the American electorate can be, and despite his substantial drop in domestic popularity, Obama’s international celebrity and popularity have remained high.  While American memory of the blunders of his predecessor may be fading, international scars are still keenly felt and there’s still much hope in the new president.  Cracks are appearing though.  Take recent daggers thrown in the UK over the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster.  Conservative UK commentator, Norman Tebbit, recently called Obama’s approach to the BP disaster a “crude, bigoted, xenophobic display of partisan political presidential petulance.”

The source of UK anger against Obama stems from what is seen as an overly aggressive stance against BP.  Tebbit’s rant finds at least partial backing in some of Obama’s BP-related posturing:

“crude” = “I don’t sit around talking to experts because this is a college seminar… we talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.” (Obama’s June 8 NBC interview)

“bigoted” = The relentless attacks on Obama’s attacks on BP as the disaster spirals completely out of control and Obama plays into British accusations of of “‘buck passing’ and ‘beating up’ the British-based company” (Daily Mail) instead of problem-solving.

“xenophobic” – Obama’s occasional use of the name “British Petroleum” that BP dropped years ago and therefore (it can be argued), playing this up as an issue with Britain when really this is the mistake of a multinational, a large stake of which is American.

“Winding up a hate campaign against the British is not a terribly smart policy. It may win Mr. Obama political support amongst the less well-informed voters right now, but the long-term effects are less sure. BP is also a major US company. Busting it might not be a very smart idea and not just on economic grounds. The message that non-US companies are likely to be treated as political punchbags would be a profoundly political message, too.”  (Tebbit)

Joining the ranks of political malcontents, Boris Johnson, the Conservative mayor of London, said that he was concerned about “anti-British rhetoric” and “name-calling” from American leaders.   And it’s not just a few oversensitive conservative politicos that are pissy: the UK’s Sunday Times quoted a survey that stated 64% of Brits and 47% of US residents claim Obama’s handling of the BP crisis hurt the relationship between the two countries and that in both countries, 22% of respondents went as far as calling Obama anti-British.

As exciting as this rift-rhetoric can be, much of the Anglo-American hand-wringing about it took place before a June 12 conversation in which Obama tried to soften the perceived attack on Britain over the disaster by saying that his unhappiness with BP had nothing to do with its British identity. Following the conversation, The Times‘s journalist Giles Whittel wrote: “The notion that American attacks on BP are anti-British is embarrassing. It is a fiction incubated by the thin-skinned, solipsistic and broadly anti- American world view that bubbles up like warm bitter in the best-kept villages of Little England whenever anyone in Washington has the temerity to break with the tradition of referring to the Old Country and its pretensions with anything other than awed admiration.”

Further evidence that Obama wanted to make peace?  He put beer on the table.  The trick worked a year ago when Obama invited black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and white Cambridge, Mass., police Sgt. James Crowley to the White House for a beer after causing an uproar by saying the police had “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates, Jr. for disorderly conduct. This time around, Obama and Cameron wagered a beer over who would win the June 12 US/England World Cup game.  When the teams tied, the politicos presented each other with their respective beers and gushed about the special relationship between the two countries.

There’s even a chance that the Anglo-American relationship will improve after the BP fiasco.  The evidence? Obama’s gift-giving is improving.  A beer far outshines his last gift to a British PM.  In exchange for an ornate pen holder from former PM Gordon Brown, Obama presented the British leader with a set of DVDs that don’t even work in British players.



Bjorn Karlman

“Those Pants Make You Look Illegal” – A Win for Intolerance in Arizona

Statue of Liberty holding a stop sign

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer sure knows how to dial back the pace of progress.  Today, Brewer signed into law a bill that will allow police to demand legal status papers from anyone they think gives off an illegal immigrant vibe.  Challenged by Chris Matthews on Hardball last night to provide one non-ethnic clue that law enforcement would pick up on to round up illegals, Rep Brian Billbray (R-CA) said, “They will look at the kind of dress you wear, there’s different type of attire, there’s different type of — right down to the shoes, right down to the clothes.” 

So if you live in Arizona, your dressing rituals will have to allow for more than color coordination and avoiding your fat pants: You will also need  to gauge just how illegal you look before you walk out the door.  Like two dudes at the movies with an obligatory “I’m not gay” seat between them, who knows the lengths people will go to not look border-hopperish?

It is hard to decide what is more crazy-making: the fact that backers of the law are so prejudiced that they think you can identify undocumented individuals walking down the street based on clothing or vague hunches, or the fact that these fearmongering xenophobes have the naivety to argue that this isn’t going to turn into legally-sanctioned racial profiling.  Brewer claims that she won’t tolerate anything of the sort as, simultaneously, she stokes the fears of Arizonians in a shameless mid-battle re-election bid.

Even President Obama himself has tried to stop this legislation being voted into law.  He deemed the Arizona moves “misguided” and stated that they “threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”  Obama has ordered his legal team to examine the legality of the decision in Arizona and said that there must be national immigration reform or we would allow for more “irresponsibility by others.”

In classic conservative “us and them” prattle, the bill’s Republican sponsor, state Rep. Russell Pearce of Mesa, said that Obama and other critics of the bill were “against law enforcement, our citizens and the rule of law.”  He claimed that the new legislation would remove the “political handcuffs” on police.  “Illegal is illegal,” said Pearce, “We’ll have less crime. We’ll have lower taxes. We’ll have safer neighborhoods. We’ll have shorter lines in the emergency rooms. We’ll have smaller classrooms.” Why didn’t he just continue? We’ll have less shady brown people.  We’ll have cleaner accents.  We’ll talk to our neighbors again.

This has been a sad day for civil rights.  Let’s push for immigration reform before we are all Arizonians.



Bjorn Karlman

Keep it simple, Keep it stupid: Palin on Nuclear Defense


Ever-innocent of in depth analysis, Sarah Palin likened President Obama’s nuclear policy to a child in a playground telling one of his playmates, “‘Go ahead, punch me in the face and I’m not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to with me.”  Setting aside the stats on the amount of gradeschoolers that use the word “retaliate”, let’s focus on the bigger picture of Palin’s April 7 bid at “snappy quip of the day”.  Yet again, Sarah Palin has taken “Keep it Simple Stupid” to such ridiculous lengths that she has emerged looking… well… quite simple and quite stupid.  Even Obama who seldom comments on Palin’s yap felt the need to comment this time around, calling her “not much of an expert on nuclear issues.”

Let’s unpack Palin’s genius further with a look at the context of her remarks.  This past Thursday, April 8, Obama signed a nuclear treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that would result in both countries significantly scaling back the size of their nuclear arsenals.  Included in the smorgasbord of changes to nuclear policy, the United Sates is pledging not to threaten to or actually nuke any non-nuclear country that is in compliance with the international nonproliferation treaty.  Even if chemical or biological weapons were to be used on the US or its allies, the response under this new agreement could be aggressive military action but not nuclear action against said country.  Two caveats: nukes may be back on the table if biological weapons grow sufficiently in their ability to devastate AND North Korea and Iran are still fair game for nuking since they won’t cooperate with nonproliferation standards.

Back to Palin.  The vision of a post nuclear world obviously doesn’t get much traction with the Alaskan.  Neither does nuance.  Treaties of the kind just signed will help reduce the threat of nuclear warfare or nuclear terrorism as they will reduce the size of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals while simultaneously, bolstering security around what remains.  Palin seems to think that voluntarily reducing your nuclear capacity is a sign of weakness.  This is classic conservative shortsightedness.  If what we ultimately want is greater security, it makes sense to reduce firepower and the possibilities that the most destructive weapons in the world may fall into the hands of rogue states or terrorist groups.  Also, Palin seems incapable of reading the fine print: the nuclear option is not going away.  It can and will still be used, depending on the size of the threat against the United States.  And, as Robert Gibbs pointed out, the United States has, “a massive conventional arsenal that we believe has an important deterrent effect on anybody that might make the poor decision to attack our country.”

As entertaining as we may find Palin’s quips and sandbox nostalgia to be, if her long-term goal is the security of the United Sates and its allies, it would behoove her to think about more than inciting populist rage one chipper aside at a time.  Leadership is more than Tea Party diatribes, FOX talk or practiced, wink-punctuated debates rebuttals.  Unless it is addressed carefully, Palin’s lack of substance will collapse like her Katie Couric interviews and her failed governorship.  Time for some soul searching?  You betcha.



Bjorn Karlman

Are Black People Better Off in Obama’s America?


For a huge slice of America, the Obama bubble burst in record time.  The initial elation of having toppled the establishment and brought change with a young, sexy black president gave way to the anger of hangers-on when they realized that the new president was mortal, his agenda controversial and the economy he inherited abysmal.  A year later with an as-of-yet jobless recovery, a searingly controversial health care reform agenda in limbo and millions concerned about government spending, Obama’s support is at a record low.  White support dropped from 76% right after the election to a recent figure of 56%. Not so with African Americans.  A recently released Pew Research Center survey on race showed that, economy-be-damned, 95% of black people still have a favorable opinion of Obama and that they were more optimistic about their progress in the last two years than they have been for the last 25 years.

The “Obama Effect” is dramatic.  Despite the fact that, in terms of joblessness and economic suffering, African Americans have been far harder hit than the average American, almost double the percentage of black people (39%) in 2009 say that the “situation of black people in this country” has improved over the last five years, in stark contrast to 20% in 2007.  Also, 53% of black respondents felt that life in the future would be better for black people and only 10% felt it would be worse.  This is quite the jump from the 2007 numbers (44% thought it would be better, 21% thought it would be worse).

Things are looking better in the race relations department too.  Fifty-four percent of African Americans report that Obama’s election has forged progress in this area.  Only 7% disagree.  The perceived gap between black and white also seems to be narrowing as a majority of African Americans believe that the two racial groups have grown more similar in terms of cultural values and standard of living; 52% of black people feel that if blacks cannot get ahead in the US, it is their own fault, not something that can be blamed on racial discrimination.  This figure is not necessarily Obama-inspired but has been changing steadily from the mid-90s when the opposite view was held by most black people.

When it comes down to the economy and jobs, whereas white perceptions of the state of the economy have plummeted since the recession began, black opinions have generally held steady, as has their perception of the state of their personal finances.

Of course, not all black people are fans. African American Chicagoan Isaac Hayes is running for Congress and is attempting the near-impossible feat of stealing Illinois District 2 from Jesse Jackson Jr.  In a BBC interview, he says that Obama “brought inspiration, him and his family, to the White House. I am proud to have a black president – America is proud, but that’s not the issue. He’s brought change, but it’s not the right kind of change. He’s allowed the left to pull him off his campaign promise to work with both sides of the aisle. I don’t think he believes in American exceptionalism: he’s been on an apology tour round the world, and I don’t agree with that.”

Hayes’ point is as widely-held as it is predictable.  With the exception of a well-deserved win in the Jan. 19 special election to fill the Senate seat previously held by Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts, Republicans have been spectacularly reliable sourpusses since Obama’s election.  Why wouldn’t they be?  Their former leader was universally despised; their policies blamed for the near ruin of America’s economy and their power to achieve anything more than a red-faced Washington hissy fit, cartoonishly diminished.

So how do you react to record high levels of African American optimism?  I suppose reactionary bigots would claim that black people are delusional, their perception of reality and American misery skewed by having one of their own in the Oval Office.  If little has improved and much has worsened since Obama took office, why else would black people be content?

Another Chicagoan, Reverend Leon Finney, founded the Metropolitan Apostolic Church and now leads The Woodlawn Organization. He has known Obama since he worked as a community organizer in his 20s.  He says that because of their history, black people are patient. “We are very proud. We are elated. Maybe, somewhat underemployed and unemployed still, but we have a lot of hope. You have to remember more than any other ethnic group the African-American population has learned to live with hardship and survive the harshest of situations. ‘Last hired, first fired’ is nothing new for the African-American community. My sense is that we are used to the rigors and better able to adapt and less frightened (by the recession) than our brothers and sisters of different colors.”

Instant gratification is not something that can happen in today’s America, no matter how much it is craved. Historically, the plight of the disadvantaged, while dramatically unjust, has been more the norm in American society.  But maybe, just maybe, the tides could be turning. While those accustomed to luxury and a secure spot at the top of the economic totem poll may protest targeted taxes and an overhaul of healthcare, could it be that Obama’s legacy will mean enhanced quality of life for those in America who need it most?


Bjorn Karlman

Fundamentalism Loses its Mojo

street post with heaven ave and hell st signs

A fun-filled decade of evangelically-driven American foreign and domestic policy is behind us and despite best efforts to inject last minute sex-appeal à la Palin, Christian fundamentalism is fallen. Helpful clarifications and labels like the Axis of Evil are out of vogue.  Whereas previously, issues of national and international importance were seen through the handy prism of Dubya’s good vs. evil rhetoric, it looks as though we are actually going to have to think for ourselves again.

But the fact that Christian fundamentalism is losing its mojo does not mean that Christians are on the retreat.  If anything, moderate proponents of the faith are emerging from the shadows.  “I am a Closet Christian” confesses Ada Calhoun in a Dec 21, 2009 Salon.com article.  A New Yorker, Calhoun talks about her fear of being outed as a Christian: “Why am I so paranoid? I’m not cheating on my husband, committing crimes or doing drugs. But those are battles my cosmopolitan, progressive friends would understand. Many of them had to come out — as gay, as alcoholics, as artists in places where art was not valued. To them, my situation is far more sinister: I am the bane of their youth, the boogeyman of their politics, the very thing they left their small towns to escape. I am a Christian.”

Agonizing about how to verbalize her views on faith, Calhoun says, “it’s hard to talk about any of this without sounding dumb, or like a zealot, or ridiculous. And who wants to be lumped in with all the other Christians, especially the ones you see on TV protesting gay marriage, giving money to charlatans, and letting priests molest children?”

Moderate Muslims face a similar challenge.  After a decade of bad PR, the struggle remains to reshape Islam in the coming decade.  “The good news is that those Muslims who espouse militant ideologies no longer find a physical home in mainstream Muslim America… the New York-based al-Qaeda supporting extremist duo that calls itself “Revolution Muslim” has been reduced to heckling mosque-goers from the sidewalk,” says Shahed Amanullah in altmuslim.com / Global perspectives on Muslim life, politics & culture.

“Muslims Denounce Terrorism / Terror Has No Religion” reads a bumper sticker sold by the The American Muslim.  It’s hard to battle terror with talk of peace but as more and more voices demand an end to extremism, the tide may be turning.  It doesn’t hurt that Obama gave his first interview as President to an Arab broadcaster; that his Cairo speech was well-received or the fact that his envoy to address the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is seen as more balanced than his predecessor.

What the coming decade holds is anyone’s guess.  Hopefully, a new tone is being set. “We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things….” said Obama in his Inaugural Address. Dodging any delusional salvation-through-Obama drool, perhaps there still is hope that childishly extreme religious rhetoric has seen its heyday in the US.


Bjorn Karlman

“You’re Hired.” When being in the multicultural know can mean a paycheck.

you've been around...
you've been around...

The difficulty of job hunting in this economy means that, more than ever, differentiation is the name of the game. You have to stand out to beat the competition for the few slots available. That said, multicultural savvy, overseas experience and a willingness to travel internationally can be your “in” for certain positions, regardless of the economic climate. In these professions, being in the know regarding global culture can literally mean a paycheck. Below I’ve tried to take some of the frustration out of finding international jobs by highlighting some of the most accessible entry-level jobs that would put to use your multicultural know-how, along with great online resources for finding a position in each of them.

English Language Teacher Overseas: Teaching English as a Second Language is one of the easiest areas to get work in because of the demand for English language instruction across the globe. This is a great option for recent college graduates who have a natural interest in learning more about global culture. Travel, adventure and a reliable pay stub are a pretty irresistible combination and definitely beat unemployed, post-college blues stateside. Check out this link to TEFL.com, the most popular resource for finding jobs in English Language Teaching (ELT).

Resort Jobs: Spectacular scenery, exotic locations and young, high-energy coworkers – resort jobs are perfect for college students or recent grads. Check out Job Monkey’s Resort and Spa Jobs Section for great information on the kinds of jobs available and an excellent listing of positions across the United States and abroad. As Job Monkey points out, the resort industry is one the easiest industries in which to find entry-level jobs so if lush vacation settings work for you, apply!

International Volunteer: This is not much of a money-maker (you’ll probably get a modest stipend) but I can say from personal experience that a volunteer year abroad is extremely enlightening and is a great opportunity to get away from the daily grind. The experiences you have and the things you learn about other people and other cultures are very hard to duplicate. It is absolutely worth looking into the options available. A great place to start your search is the volunteer section of idealist.org, an excellent resource for those who wish to “exchange resources and ideas, locate opportunities and supporters, and take steps toward building a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives.”

Professional Jobs Abroad: Finance, IT, pharma, consulting, marketing – you name it, and iHipo will have an international job listing for it. iHipo is a great resource for any professional that wants to do what they do at home, abroad. If you like your profession but would really like a dramatic change of scene and a chance to experience a new culture and way of life, check out your options.

Of the people I have talked to that have experienced living and working abroad, most found their experience valuable and a lot of fun. You will get to use your knowledge of global cultures and add substantially to it. Often, the experience of living away from your usual surroundings, customs and routine gives you excellent perspective on what is important in life, on what actually matters. So if you need a system reset, this may be your ticket.


Bjorn Karlman

Pulling the plug on (communication with) grandma

love in any language
love in any language

This summer ultra right-wing spin masters crisscrossed the US, spouting sensationalist garbage about Obama’s healthcare plan and organizing America’s lunatic fringe for circus-style mayhem at Town Hall meetings. One of the more charming claims made was that somehow healthcare reform was going to allow the government to “pull the plug on grandma.” Sen. Chuck Grassley, who first made the comment regarding the government’s potential future role in end-of-life decisions, later retracted it. But like Joe the Plumber, the expression stuck around. The mention of grandparents struck an emotional cord with people. We want them around. But as much as we value older family members it seems that most of us do precious little in the way of communicating with them. What’s to blame? Busy schedules? Misaligned priorities? Or is the real evil… social media?

I typed in one simple question into my Facebook status today: “Are your parents on Facebook?” Comments ranged from “my parents are old school eastern Euros…they type with one finger…so your answer is no” to “Mum is a super user… AND my 80 yr old grandmother!” I got 23 comments total.

The general trend was surprising to me: Most of my friends had at least one parent that was on Facebook even if they were subscribed, as one person put it, “only as a lurker.” Keep in mind that most of the respondents were in their late 20s or 30s and had parents that are or are pushing, grandma age.

Facebook reported this year that the fastest growing demographic of users was over 35 (http://bit.ly/7CMGd). Even more significantly, the fastest growing subset of this larger group of people over 35 is women over 55 (http://bit.ly/173ReU). That’s right, grandma has invaded Facebook. Trends such as these may be part of the reason one of my friends’ responses was, “My dad is (on Facebook) and he keeps trying to friend my friends. I will not friend him. You have to draw the line somewhere!”

LifeTips blogger Jamison Cush said, “Conventional teen wisdom: once your parents embrace something, it is no longer cool. So, inspired by a recent Facebook friend request from my mother, I am boldly declaring on this blog that Facebook is so over.” This kind of logic may be indulged for comic effect, but there is truth to it. As much as I want to stay in touch with my retirement-age parents, I don’t want them sifting through my Vegas pictures. And I will think twice about social media that allows them to do so.

Is it just time to admit that cross-generational communication is a touchier area than we give it credit for? Trying to do what we’ve failed to do in face-to-face communication across an age gap isn’t going to get easier because grandma now knows how to post bingo pictures and, very disturbingly, friends your online buds that she finds attractive. You could try to remedy the issue through heart-to-hearts over hot chocolate.

Or maybe just beef up your privacy settings.


Bjorn Karlman