I begged my parents to let me have a Facebook account when it first started getting big. I was in middle school or somewhere around there. For several years, it seemed like everyone had one but me. Each week at my homeschool co-op, my friends would talk about who posted what on whose page, or who had changed their relationship status. At the time, it felt like I missed a lot.
I wasn’t really missing anything. But I finally got my own account around freshman year of high school. I mainly used it to post pictures from the endless photoshoots I did with my friends. A lot of my old photos from band are on there. I also enjoyed filling my virtual bulletin board with Flair. Does anyone else remember that? I’m pretty sure it was the precursor to Pinterest. (Apparently there’s a project going to bring Flair back to Facebook, though.)
At some point, though, Facebook stopped giving me any value. A lot of my friends quit using it. I noticed more of my friends’ parents and grandparents than my friends. I wouldn’t have minded that too much, but eventually I realized that all I did when I got on Facebook was click on stupid listicles. You know, the ones that promised “35 Hilarious Animals” but delivered 3500 ads.
During college, Facebook introduced a feature that allowed you to download ALL of your profile data. They included your photos, your posts, your likes, your comments, your activity history – down to the second – and even the ads you were served. When I did that, and realized that literally all the time I spent on Facebook was just spent scrolling through random articles, I deleted my account. Now my original Facebook graveyard lives in the cloud.
But alas, I couldn’t stay away from Facebook forever. When I moved into marketing in my current job, I started a Facebook page for my company. (We were way behind the game on that, lol.) Facebook requires business pages to be run by a personal account, so I had to restart mine. I tried my best to keep it as bare as possible – I only followed pages that were relevant to our company, didn’t friend anyone, and didn’t put the app on my personal phone. I used Facebook to post to the business page and keep tabs on the competition. That was it.
But 2020 has turned into the year of virtual connection, apparently. (That’s an optimistic way of looking at it.) Facebook was the best way to connect with the other women who wanted to read Me and White Supremacy. And if I hadn’t rejoined Facebook for that, I don’t think I would have participated in NaNoPoblano this year. As much as I loathe Facebook, I see the value in Facebook groups. There are those that turn into huge useless meme machines, of course. But there are also some that foster real, human connection, and it’s been nice to get that from social media amidst the rest of the mindless scrolling.