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Found It On The Internet

Old Friend by Sea Wolf

Decided I wanted to talk about Facebook with all the flak they’ve been getting recently. By the time you read this, I’m guessing the take here will be ice cold, so you’re not missing out on much.

Warning: This is a very, very Silicon Valley bro take. sorry in advance.

I fucking love Facebook. I mean it - literally everything about it. I love the website. I love the updates. I love their drive to become the largest thing the world has ever seen. I love the movie (The Social Network)1. I love their shitty, awkward advertising. I love how desperate they are to get you into the fold and to keep you there. It feels like something that I never really had growing up. What is that thing? Religion!

Alright, I warned you and here we are. Starting way back in what, middle school? I think that’s when I first got Facebook, between 8th and 9th grade. How did I get on Facebook? It was like a drug, someone shared it via word of mouth. We all knew it existed, but no one really wanted to the first on it. Not quite true - everyone wanted to be the first, but it was probably really boring without anyone else. I remember how addicting it was from that very first step. Before Facebook, we all used AIM. That was a real instant chat program, you got crazy things like real-time notifications. Facebook had none of that! You had to refresh the page every 30 seconds praying for that little red flag to show up. The new You Got Mail!. There were times when I had hours going, just refreshing that. I remember adding every single app that I could to my profile, because they all showed up like widgets. I’d then try to crash my friends computers when they would load my profile, or at least lag them to a forced reset.

Slowly but surely, things changed. Facebook cleaned up the Wall into something else - the Feed. They added messaging (holy shit, what a day that was). They added Groups and Calendars and Events and so many things. There was this awesome year or two where no one really knew how to use Facebook correctly, if there is such a thing2. Right now, you can go to Messenger -> Archived -> Filtered Requests and see some beautiful ghost stories. Some of mine:

It’s crazy, I feel like I’m reaching back in time and trying to put the pieces together. Some of these are friends who got rid of Facebook. Some are from events or pages or groups that have since been deleted. They’re all ghosts now, floating around until someone remembers them again. I’m not sure that they’re rotting away necessarily, but who knows what their future is?

Anyways, once we all finally thought we knew how Facebook worked, another life event happened - college! Colleges were just starting to standardize their social media platforms. The disconnect between what they thought Facebook was and what we used it for was massive. So many new people, so fast, and none of us new what we were doing. Back then, Facebook let you make groups with automatic chats. My best memory is finding out that their was max size to that chat, and once the group exceeded that size (I think it was around 250 people), the chat got automatically shut off. I, being the social media addict I was, ended up making my dorm’s facebook group. Forbes Hall 20153, great place. Of course, we eventually broke that cap, and lost the chat. Everyone was pretty sad about it. I jokingly made one dude an admin of the group, but he got super high and kicked out people until we got the chat back. What a day of chaos that was. I felt awful because everyone thought I had removed them, but there was nothing I could do about it! Still, that 24-48 hours was absolutely ludicrous.

Whatever, getting to the end of my focus/attention span here. I’m not cut out for long form writing of any sort. All I’m saying is that I really, really miss those times. It wasn’t weird to look up people and add them on Facebook, it was expected and common. FB kept pushing new features to make it even easier to add people4 to encourage this behavior. I don’t know why it feels wrong anymore:

  • is it because Facebook is “bad” now? (evil)
  • is it because people expect/want privacy and don’t like being stalked online?
  • is it because we’re just too old for/burnt out on social media after a decade of owning it?
  • is it because people just don’t want to share all their thoughts on what is not a little bubble thing, but a massive sphere thing?

Either way, it sucks. I’m guilty too - I hardly ever post to Facebook anymore. I really wish I could “bring it back”, but I doubt that’ll ever happen. I’m just glad it’s all still up there and so perfectly dated, logged, frozen in silicon resin. Not to make it about me again, but there was never an easier way to meet people then that freshmen year of college with the Facebook explosion.

Hey Mark, I know things aren’t turning out the way you expected them to. I know your product does a lot of bad things. But it did a lot of good things for me, so I just wanted to say thanks.

  1. “Because you go to BU” is a top 5 movie line and you know it. ↩︎

  2. I love thinking like this. I was in love with League of Legends in college. There’s a famous quote by one pro player along the lines of “We all played the game every day, but only knew how to win”. I always thought that was a fascinating context for these things. ↩︎

  3. Yeah, an awful name. Should’ve been 2011, oops. ↩︎

  4. NFC adds, lmao. ↩︎