Why I Still Love Facebook
The big social network news this week was of course Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that on Monday, one billion people logged into Facebook. One BILLION, the kind of number my poor little brain has real trouble trying to imagine. One BILLION according to Zuckerberg himself, is 1 in 7 of the world’s inhabitants… crikey.
I am a really regular FB user. I love it. I have friends and family that live all over the world and the same again who live nice and close by. Facebook means we can all keep in touch and that we have relationships nearing what we would have if we all lived in the same town. As an example, it means my aunty and uncle who moved twenty years ago to New Zealand can meddle in my affairs as much as they could if they lived in my hometown. It even produces those strange instances of happenstance when you realise two unconnected friends from two unconnected parts of your life actually go way back as well. So far, so Facebook.
Of course, Facebook also means I have plenty of those weird conversations that happen when you meet up with distant friends and you already know all their news because you’ve already read about it on your wall. Then there are the awkward moments when someone at work tries to ‘friend’ you, and the lost time you spend stalking through your ex-boyfriend’s photos judging his questionable choices…
Because of, and despite of all this, I cannot get enough Facebook.
I know there are a million more social networks out there, but half my life of the last few years is there, like a lovely diary complete with pictures, of my best moments. Occasionally I will commit some time to scrolling back through my own wall and watch as my kids turn back to toddlers, my friends’ hairstyles change and the story of my life unrolls. And this is where no other network can compete. Twitter, for example, just moves too damn fast, Periscope, I’m not quite ‘getting’ just yet, and Snapchat, well, that is the realm of the teen whippersnappers I teach and I don’t want to go there.
And maybe that is the success of Facebook with my age group. I know from very scientific polls of my classes (16-19 year old Film students) that nobody uses Facebook anymore except those who are trying to be retro. For those of us with a few more years on the clock, Facebook retains the charm it always had. It is my generation who are likely to live far from our loved ones, who share the hell out of photos of our adorable babies and their shenanigans, and who find the pace of other networks too fast moving to be meaningful. So maybe this is technology growing up. Technology that my generation invented and are growing older with.
If I were beginning to doubt my commitment to good old Zuckerberg and his chums, then this week I have had that faith (and slightly creepy feeling) restored. Every now and again, as you are all well aware, FB tries to hook you up with some new friends. Most of the time, my recommended friends have been work folk (no!), friends’ mums (why?!), or randoms I have never heard of. Until now. This week, Facebook has connected me with two absolutely vital people that made me who I am today; my very first friend in the world, and the guy with whom I have one of those ‘40 and unmarried’ deals, the absolute (platonic) love of my teen years. Both of these guys I had lost touch with long, long ago, and both I had tried to find on a number of occasions. Now, I have no idea how the algorithm of FB works. I am sure it is insanely complex but for all I know, fairies and unicorns skipping about on a bed of rainbows with assorted kittens and puppies make the magic happen. Nor, despite my other half trying to explain it to me on numerous occasions, do I care remotely how it all works. But this week? This week I am impressed.
So, thank you Facebook. Your maddening changes to the flow of history are excused (though I would love you to change it back), the crappy ads on the side for nappies are ignored, and the stresses of posting something whilst a little tipsy can rest safe from the jaws of shame.
Thank you for allowing my aunty to meddle from millions of miles away, and thank you for keeping my friendships alive, friends reunited indeed.