The weekend marked the tenth anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings, so I wasn’t surprised this morning when I had a notification that today was my tenth anniversary on Facebook. It’s odd to connect the two events, but I remember so clearly in the aftermath of the shooting the discussion about how students received information and updates from something called Facebook.
I’m not sure I’d heard of Facebook or if I had, I certainly didn’t know much about it. I was intrigued and confused by what it was exactly, so much like Pokemon Go*, I decided to give it a try. I remember very nervously signing myself up, not really sure if I was “doing it right”. I apparently became friends with 3 people that day (one of whom was my sister) and all of whom were either still in or just out of university/college.
A decade later, it’s hard to imagine not having Facebook. I know some people do and reportedly live happy and full lives. Some Facebookers like to claim they don’t really pay much attention to it (Their up-to-the-minute knowledge of what has been posted recently tends to undermine those claims). Others seem to be perpetually frustrated by what other people are posting.
I’ll freely admit – I like Facebook. I check it frequently through the day. It has allowed me to stay in touch with people I know I would have long ago lost touch with. Prior to Facebook, I wasn’t good at being a pen pal or sending email. Now I know what my far flung cousins are up to; I know where friends from various academic endeavours ended up. As for people who live in the same place – I know more about their lives than I would without Facebook updates. I find it amusing to “watch” a Blue Jays game with a group of friends without having to change out of my pjs or move from couch, particularly when it’s 1 am and there’s an outpouring of excitement at a game winning home run (well last year anyway).
Yes there’s things about it that annoy me; I’ve hidden posts from some people that are just too much. While much of what is posted is the happy shiny version of life that people want to be seen I’ve also seen brutal honesty from people in tough times that is a reflection of life in a way that overly filtered photos will never be. And if my mishaps and missteps make people laugh a little then it makes it a little better for me too.
I’m a Facebook user. Here’s to another 10 years.
*My Facebook experience has been much more enduring than my one week obsession Pokemon Go.