TGIF, dear readers! It’s been a long week for me, fighting a battle against getting sick and ultimately losing. However, that means more time indoors cuddled up under a blanket with a book or notebook, so I suppose it hasn’t all been bad. So, my dears, please forgive the decreased eloquence on this post.
This week was a monumental anniversary for Facebook: 10 years. It provided an opportunity for reflection not only on how Facebook has changed over the years, but how Facebook has changed us.
I won’t say that the anniversary meant the most to people my age, but it has been the longest relationship possible, since when Facebook was launched, you had to be a college student in order to use it. I’ve been a member since 2005–I actually waited about a year to join, even though I could have in the inaugural 2004.
In some cases, Facebook has been a tool for changing lives. The news was abuzz this week with stories of reunion, nostalgia, and sometimes, heartbreak. This article from the New York Times blog said it well, complete with personal anecdotes.
The overarching theme in the aforementioned article and all of the ones I’ve read this week: connection. I’d have to agree–that’s what Facebook has meant the most on for me. I’ve gotten to stay connected with my best friends when we all went away to different colleges. I’ve gotten to reconnect with childhood friends I’d lost touch with 20 years ago. I’ve gotten to see the personal side of business colleagues. I’ve gotten to see some very personal moments, like newborn babies, that I might never have seen from friends across the globe.
Some people decry Facebook, saying it’s led them to lost jobs, lost relationships, etc. because of a detail that got leaked. Well…in my eyes, the world is becoming more and more public, so we need to work harder to keep things private that we really want to. It’s not “Facebook’s” fault, really–it’s our own choices that lead to consequences. For me, as a memoirist, I’ve already made the decision to “live out loud”–put myself out there. That doesn’t mean I’m constantly posting a food diary (OK, maybe some of the more special meals, like Thanksgiving bread with the family). But it does mean that I’m aware of the images and thoughts I’m sending out into the universe. Shouldn’t we be proud of the things we do and say? I don’t know, that’s my thought, anyway.
For me, Facebook is somewhat like skimming a newspaper by reading headlines. You catch the major events of loved ones, like babies or engagements, but you don’t always have the stories behind them, like how the happy couple came to choose the baby name or the ring. It’s a great way to read a little bit about a lot of people, but picking up the phone or getting together for coffee is still essential–something I learned firsthand. It’s something I think we all learned firsthand, those of us who grew with Facebook: that Facebook is a helpful auxiliary tool, but not the only answer for anything. Some customs are still best non-electronically: paper wedding invitations, physical hugs, ranting about job or familial woes (some people are still learning all of these, actually…).
From a business side, it’s very funny to me how at this point in my life, I use Facebook for business as much as I do for personal use. Until a few years ago, I often felt guilty for logging onto Facebook and emerging hours later, having perused through endless photos, status updates, events, personal notes, etc. Now, I know that it gave me the edge of knowing how best to communicate through social media to promote myself as an author on Facebook, as well as various social media stuff for Marianjoy, in particular, managing the Marianjoy Scholarship Facebook Page. Who knew, when Facebook started, that it would become the personal-business-news-fandom conglomerate it is today? Not I.
Besides teaching me skills for marketing, Facebook has also been a reflection of my life over the past decade or so. It’s a virtual scrapbook of so many memories. Something very neat that Facebook did to commemorate the anniversary was offer a feature where they make a one-minute video featuring your history with it, including significant photos and posts. (Make your own here.) I’m not quite sure how they chose from thousands of posts and photos, but they did a great job (and if you didn’t like yours, today, they added an “edit” feature). I’ve enjoyed watching my friends’ and mine, too. 🙂
Some videos have been more meaningful than others. Facebook granted a request of a grieving father to make a video from his deceased son’s Facebook, which had been inaccessible to him. The father is now able to see a touching reflection of the last ten years of his son’s life. (Read the full story here.)
If you’d like to see my own video, I’m including the link below. A lot of my best memories from the last decade are in here: parties with friends; fun cosplays; dates with Jeremiah; events with Jennifer; Chris and Erica’s wedding; getting into grad school; patient–>scholarship–>employee at Marianjoy; Chad; and more. I’ve watched it more times than I care to admit, enjoying the trip down memory lane, reflecting on the people and events that have changed my life.
Maybe that’s just it–maybe Facebook is more of a record of the changes in our lives, rather than a life-changer itself. It is a wonderful tool, but we have to be the ones to use it to reach out.
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my journey.
Readers, if you have a video you’d like to share, I’d love to see yours–just leave the link in the comments. 🙂
Join me later this weekend for this week’s Top 10–ways Facebook has changed our language forever.
Next week, I will be featuring many literary Valentine’s-themed posts–some sweet, some sassy, for the romantic and cynic alike. 😉