The Internet Facts of Life as Explained by a 12-Year-Old

"Mom, I know you have a lot of questions, and I want us to be open with each other. So, I think it's time you learned where blogs and tweets come from."

Mom, it's gonna be a long ride to Grandma's, and while we have some time alone together, I think it'd be good for us to talk about some things. I'm getting older, and I'm not always gonna be around the house to explain stuff to you. I know you have a lot of questions, and I want us to be open with each other. So, I think it's time you learned where blogs and tweets come from.

I don't know what kind of stories you've heard from your friends or the ladies in your book club. Sometimes, old people will spread around what they've heard from other old people. This can make things even more confusing and scary. That's why it's important you get the straight facts from me.

The Internet is a very beautiful thing if used properly.

When a person loves a funny video very much, he or she may want to share it with someone special to them. This is called linking and if done properly, it can bring people together in a very special union of love: usually the love of sneezing animals, or bed intruders, or Bill O'Reilly having a temper tantrum. But it's important to be sparing when you send your links. You don't want to become the neighborhood outbox, constantly forwarding yourself around. Nobody wants that kind of reputation. Trust me, you do not want to be known as a "spammer."

Now when someone has a lot of things they want to say, they may want to try blogging. Blogging is a kind of social intercourse, and should only be tried after years of experience with the Internet. Think of a blog as a newspaper that people actually read. It's a very personal thing, and you need healthy boundaries. For example, you can't go around blogging about the time I peed my pants when we went to see Ice Age like you told that woman in line at TJ Maxx yesterday. You need to be cautious before you move on to something more serious, like a tweet.

A tweet is a powerful yet brief experience that you share with thousands of people, sometimes even famous ones. Don't feel bad if you don't tweet! A lot people never tweet, and they live perfectly happy lives. Yes, you'll read a lot of bad tweets before you find the right ones. But once you do find that perfect feed, you'll spend the whole day wanting to refresh on it. And whatever you do, don't follow @aplusk.

You should try Facebook, though. Everyone tries Facebook at least once in their life. It usually starts in college. It may seem like harmless fun at first, but I know a lot of people who once they started Facebooking, couldn't stop. They'd waste their whole day updating their status, commenting on colleagues' vacation photos, and, tragically, poking almost complete strangers. It can become very unhealthy, so I want you to be careful. And listen; I don't want you ever writing on my Wall; even if it's my birthday. That's just not appropriate for a mother and daughter.

I hope this wasn't too embarrassing for you. We'll talk about what a meme is when we get to Grandma's. I don't want to have to explain it twice.

Image by Vadim Ponomarenko/ShutterStock

The Internet Facts of Life as Explained by a 12-Year-OldMcSweeney's is an independent publisher based in San Francisco that publishes books, a quarterly fiction journal, a quarterly film DVD magazine, a monthly culture magazine, and a daily humor website. The McSweeney's iPhone app is available through the Apple store. For more information, visit mcsweeneys.net.