Here's a fact we can all agree on: There should be strict age restrictions on social media. Not for the young, but for the old. Our parents and grandparents grew up in a different world, where they only ever had to socialize with their immediate family and three personal friends. They were never taught that nobody wants to see 121 photos of them baking bread. They don't understand that it's not OK to repost fake right-wing conspiracy theories about immigrants to hundreds of people.
Because I'm always on the lookout for new and exciting ways to humble myself, I decided to surrender complete administrative control of my Facebook profile to one of these old people: my dad.
A note on what I'm normally like on Facebook: I like to think of myself as a "thoughtful observer"—a silent lurker, sprinkling likes here and there to the lucky few who truly deserve them. I very rarely post anything, but when I do, I worry over every detail.
I wouldn't say my father is the exact opposite, but he certainly adopts a more liberal approach when it comes to deciding which irrelevant detail of his everyday life should be shared with the rest of the world. One thing that I hoped would work in my favor is that my father is actually cool. He was a record producer in the 80s, working with artists like Whitney Houston and Donna Summer, and once he even let me interview him about his sex life.
Suffice to say, I was completely wrong.
Dad kicks things off by heading straight for my photos. He decides that I need a new profile picture, swapping my old one for a picture of me as an adorable, innocent toddler. Imagine the moment your parents bring out the family photo album to show your new girlfriend, only this time they are presenting it to the entire world. Dad shows some impressive tech savviness by commenting on a few posts himself so as not to give the game away.
After a few hours, I have already posted more than I have in the past few months combined. Surprisingly, no one questions the sudden increased volume of posts on my profile. Most of my friends seem unmoved by my new approach.
On day two of his new job as my personal social media editor, my father chooses a quantity-over-quality strategy. I am actively sharing terrible motivational quotes, the strangest articles the internet has to offer, and checking into various public parks in the middle of the work day.
A Pokémon Go career I'd otherwise taken steps to keep somewhat discreet is exposed to the world.
He fills my timeline with nonstop likes, spam posts, and #meaningless #hashtags. He takes every quiz ever created and shares the results for all to see. In the evening, he decides I need a new cover photo—something that expresses who he thinks I truly am:
My sudden Facebook awakening is entertaining for those who haven't heard from me in years, while close friends try desperately to block the endless stream of nonsense that is my timeline.
I can't walk around the office without being stopped by shocked colleagues.
"Is this the new you?" one asks. "This has gone too far," another declares.
Day three does offer a pleasant surprise: My dad's thirst for fresh content leads him to discover an obscure treasure trove of old photos I have completely forgotten about, suddenly filling me with warm memories.
Day four brings with it a third profile picture—this time a rare gift from my slightly more rounded face phase of high school.
Later, my dad achieves his greatest success to date: He shares a "what is your rapper name" quiz that attracts the widest, most diverse range of people my friend list has to offer—from my boss's boss to my grandmother.
The post attracts more than 25 comments, the largest response in the history of my Facebook career. I don't know whether I should be celebrating the new-found attention or worrying that my friends seem to like the dad version of my online self better than the real one.
By day five, my father has fully found both his voice and confidence. High on power, he starts sending out friend requests to strangers. Later in the day, he updates my status with a picture of himself at my age, while hyping the music duo Sleaford Mods gig I would be attending the next day.
On the sixth day, it dawns on me that my father's antics must have reached every single one of the hundreds of Facebook "friends" I've made through the years. Some are still curious, most are accepting, but others are growing increasingly frustrated:
For the first time, I notice that I'm starting to lose followers.
There is no rest on the seventh day. Dad, fully aware this is his final day in charge, starts early. The theme for the day is nostalgia, with a focus on baby pictures with my siblings, and "I love my dad" status updates. These are all things I legitimately do feel, but would never widely share without any sort of provocation.
Surprisingly, he takes a sudden break from the deep dive into my childhood to send out a storm of "Pokes" that I could've easily lived without—also confirming the function does in fact still exist, for reasons unknown.
Eventually, the experiment did, finally, come to an end, and I regained full control of my Facebook profile, though not before my dad sent out one final new profile picture:
Giving my dad executive control over my Facebook profile for a week felt like I had brought him into every single relationship I have ever had—significant or otherwise. And though I wouldn't recommend that you also try it, I do sense that my friends now have a deeper understanding of who I am.
So has this all been disaster? Absolutely. Has it done irreparable damage to several of my personal relationships? Undoubtedly. Should Poking someone in 2017 be considered a mildly passive aggressive form of harassment? Deep down, you already know the answer.