For this writer, Facebook’s turning 10 years old brought with it not the customary “How fast that decade went!” response, but the thought, “Has it been only one decade?”
Can a mere 10 years have held all the times friends have recounted trivial events in the lives of their second cousins once removed that they gleaned from their fourth time on Facebook that afternoon? Can just one 10-year period have seen my first foray into the F-book waters, my exit out after the third month of opening my account to the news that someone I barely knew had once again water-skied on her favorite lake, and my truly misguided re-upping for a business reason—and, soon after, letting that account lie F-fallow with five friends to my name? Speaking of which . . . has it really been only two times five years that I’ve allowed myself to be embarrassed by how few of these kinds of friends I have?
Facebook wasn’t around when 11-year-olds were born? How did people learn of their births, their first teeth, their tiny plastic training potties, their tender bedtime moments?
People who married in 2002 had no way of informing at least 3,115 strangers of their choice of bridesmaids’ dresses, boutonnière blossoms, or first- dance choreographers?
Did they even feel like they’d had weddings?
It is hard to imagine the world without Facebook, but not hard to long for the day when liking something meant you had thought about or experienced it for more than three seconds. It’s hard not to think that loyalty was something an organization earned, rather than generated through tricks of the social media trade. Hard not to look back and sigh at the memory of receiving a photo in the mail—or even as an attachment to an email. Hard not to regret signing up for something that speculates on potential relationships for you—with people who know people who know people you know.
I truly like progress (in the old-fashioned sense of that word “like”), and am a fan of lots of things digital—I can’t imagine being on public transportation without my iPad. I love making restaurant reservations online. I almost set time aside for learning more features of Microsoft Office than the few I use instead of a typewriter and Filofax. I pay attention when someone extols an app they love (though I’ve yet to sign up for any but NPR, PBS, and the one that tells me the weather).
I even love the occasional email about my suitability to collect millions of dollars on behalf of a misunderstood Nigerian, because the grammar is usually so entertaining.
But Facebook is something else again. It’s like being on an island where everyone drinks sugary carbonated beverages while watching slapstick movies with hundreds of commercial interruptions all day long. No . . . it’s like being on a bus with 56 other people, all talking on their cellphones at once. No . . . it’s like sitting next to Aunt Franny at the dinner after the funeral while she tells you what is going on with each of her son’s colleagues at the roller rink.
Clearly, this is not what it’s like for everyone . . . or even close to everyone. Clearly, time has flown while lots of people have been having Facebook fun. I don’t think it’s a case of sour grapes (those few “friends,” remember), but it may just be an inability to taste the sweetness of sharing meaningful personal moments with people who are casual acquaintances at best.
CNET reported this about Facebook’s birthday celebration:
“Facebook turns 10 on February 4 and is celebrating by giving its audience of 1.23 billion a way to relive their digital history on the network with a special release called Look Back.
“Look Back is meant to be a sentimental experience. It lets members on the Web or mobile either watch a personalized movie, view a collection of their top photos, or read a “thank you” card from the company, depending on how much content they have posted to the service. Those who get the movie will be able to edit the posts that are included in their little Facebook flicks.”
I think I know what this means. I won’t be getting the movie. I won’t be seeing any top photos, and I probably won’t get a “thank you” card from the company. Unlike 1.23 billion people minus one, I won’t deserve any of that. I don’t have a happy history of F-fun to look back on, and I have no doubt Big F knows that, too.