Tuesday, February 4, 2014

On Being Cool and Being on Facebook

Today marks the 10 year anniversary of Facebook, the social media site formerly known as The Facebook. If you were a college student back then, you might remember a young crop of knock-offs sprouting from the fertile soil of college students with high speed Ethernet connections. Wow, so fast. Within weeks of The Facebook going live, our little school IT administrators were putting the kibosh on "The Bucknell Facebook," and acting crotchety about privacy rights.

A week or two after that I was on the phone with Mark Zuckerburg interviewing him for a newspaper article on his site. I was trying to sort out who exactly invented the idea of a facebook and what it all meant. If I could find the article buried deep in my box of memories two feet deep in the linen closet, I could tell you if we were even using the term "social network" back then. I doubt it.

I had no idea who I was talking to. I had no idea the site was going global. I had no idea that in 10 years, I would be loathing its very existence with every baby announcement, tom-fool-look-at-me status and incessant jibber jabber. I had no idea that I would be living a stone's throw from Zuckerburg in a city forever changed by its invention.

I joined Facebook the day I returned to campus for my senior year, Aug. 26, 2004. Bucknell was maybe the 30th school or so the site was released to. It felt prestigious. It felt cool. And for a little less than a year, it was both.

Melinda - I am already your friend! You show up on my list and I see myself on yours...singletons rock!
Like · 
The first thing ever written on my wall.

I spent that year silently observing, stalking and curating a clever profile. It was the new phone hang-up without the repercussions that caller-id had brought about. I checked out and was (hopefully) checked out. I was soiling the exclusive Ivy-league waters, which I didn't realize until I felt the waters had been soiled by other, lesser schools. Schools without any ivy on their campuses whatsoever. Hrmph.

Photo: But it was the perfect ending to a fantastic weekend!
My first picture posted to Facebook in 2007 (having a digital camera was a big deal!)

For the past 9 years, Facebook and my relationship has been complicated. Kids I used to babysit friended me. There was mama drama when our mother's joined. It became one big b*tch-fest married to one big green eyed monster. People went on fasts and gave it up for lent. What was once an alternative to MySpace became MySpace, complete with half-clad, slutty bathroom mirror selfies that I have to manually hide in my feed. In essence, the Salon became the barber shop. It lost it's cool.

Yet, I still check my feed almost daily. I've learned of marriages, babies and deaths. It is my personalized, local newspaper without the newsprint fingertips. There's rallying around the causes I hold most dear like first steps, miraculous recoveries and adopted puppies. My life unfolds over my timeline as I made my relationship Facebook Official and photos of us hoisted in the air during the Hava Nagila were posted hours after my wedding.

No, it's no longer cool. But Facebook is a remnant of the last summer of my youth. I think about it nostalgically, remembering the newness and possibilities. My timeline reflects a life I never would have predicted, and now can't imagine any other way.

10 years and we've both come a long way.

1 comment:

  1. Ha loved this post! I find myself much less able to really connect with people on Facebook teh way I used to. It just feels like a public pageant these days.