Facebook told me that it is our 10th anniversary. Apparently I signed up in June of 2008. That sound about right. I had come back from a trip to Europe and sent around my Prague Marathon story. Back then I did my blog posts and status updates the old fashion way: annoying emails that most people deleted without reading.
A friend wrote back, asking if I was on Facebook. I said no but would sign up as soon as I figured out what Facebook was. I figured it was something like MySpace and Friendster and whatever Microsoft was trying at the moment. I created an account and saw that I already had two friends, others who had invited me to join FB. One has since deleted her account.
Like the current commercial, I came for the friends, and stayed for the connections. I saw Facebook as a place where people post photos of their grandchildren or their pets. They can post any mundane, fabulous, irrelevant, snarky, pointless, heartbreaking or remarkable thing they want to. It is what it is. Don’t overthink Facebook.
These days I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I enjoy seeing updates from friends near and far as they unlock life achievements or simply share an interesting item or anecdote of their day. And of course it helps me as a writer share my stories. On the other hand, it is annoying to see otherwise intelligent friends share MEMEs that inadequately sum up or oversimplify an issue.
The thing is, your “Friends” have always been this way, you just didn’t realize it. Facebook just shined a light on it. You are likely friends with someone because you shared some time and space together not because you shared the same view of Roe v Wade.
My biggest pet peeve about FB, as with any technology, is that people feel that the way they use it is not only the right way, but the only way to use it.
Take the picture above. What they are talking about isn’t really important. What is important is that theoretically they are on the same side and want the same thing. But Person_Who_Posted set their security settings so no one could share it. Person_Who_Commented probably knows they could cut and paste but that is annoying and cumbersome. They are perhaps, backhandedly, asking Person_Who_Posted to change security settings because it is easier to hit a button. Does Person_Who_Posted not know they can change the settings on just the one post or do they have a very good but not obvious reason for not changing the settings? Who should bend?
One of the Facebook Frustrations is the little realized fact that not everyone in your friends list sees everything you post and vice versa. If all your friends posted at 5pm and you logged in, you’d only see a snapshot of the postings. Part of it is technical but most of it is those lovely Facebook algorithms. Not to mention that what you see varies from device to device and web.
Remember the friend I mentioned above who asked me if I was on Facebook? She never comments on any of my statuses, rarely wishes me a happy birthday and only reaches out when she needs something. Still I haven’t unfriended her because….at least she’s not like many of my racist friends who I keep sound because I am fond of the time we spent together in a sleepy little backwater college town.
It’s hard to predict what the future holds in store for Facebook but I think it’s safe to say Facebook is here to stay in one form or another. Uncle Google tells me that tin or aluminum is an appropriate 10th anniversary gift. I’d settle for peace and civility.
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