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Published August 21 2011

Swift: Before Facebook, we had Mombook

Decades before MySpace or Facebook, the Swift family had its own social-networking site.

It was called Mombook.

All information was collected at a central site – aka Mom’s brain – and disseminated via a state-of-the-art device known as Mom’s mouth.

Mombook saved us all a lot in time and phone bills. We didn’t need to call each other to catch up on each other’s lives. With just one phone call from Mom, we could learn who was interviewing for a new job, who redecorated her kitchen and how someone’s diet was going.

Mombook was bug-free, efficient and amazingly fast. News spread as if it had been texted by an over-caffeinated 14-year-old with double-jointed thumbs.

Oh sure, sometimes a detail got lost along the way. For instance, a bad connection once made me think Mabel was pregnant when the expectant mother was actually her cat.

And our social network sometimes crashed when Mom had to take a boiling pot off the stove or help Dad find a shirt.

But overall, it was a seamless system.

The trouble is, Mombook seems to need an upgrade of late.

I don’t think she’s grown obsolete; in fact, she seems as sharp as ever.

The bigger thing is that Mombook seems to be selectively disseminating information.

Case in point: Mombook will spend a lot of time telling us about the fact that someone in the neighborhood got new siding or a third cousin we’ve never met passed away at age 92 after a long battle with life.

But then we’ll get sudden, random, out-of-the-blue calls like: “Well, your dad’s out of surgery, and he’s fine.”

What? He was in surgery? For what? I didn’t know he was sick. The last I heard from them they were heading to Banff, Alberta, for a vacation. What on earth had happened?

Mombook spilled out a long monologue about Dad being sick for four days and trying to get help in a desolate area of Canada and finally getting a CAT-scan that revealed his gall bladder was diseased.

Upon a Canadian doctor’s advice, he was flown home for emergency surgery, where they removed the organ, which had begun developing gangrene.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. Mombook has also forgotten to post updates about other significant events, such as the fact Bertha had interviewed for and accepted a new job, that a well-known family friend had died and that Verbena had underwent minor surgery.

Whenever I complain about it to Mombook’s support staff, she replies that she “didn’t want to worry me.”

I have no doubt this is true. Parents spend their entire lives worrying about their kids and trying to protect them. So it’s tough when the roles begin to change.

They don’t always realize it’s OK if we worry a bit – it’s actually our turn.

Ahhh, Mombook.

It’s the only social-networking site with a heart.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525