My first memory with Facebook was my mum telling us when I was 10 that she had joined. However, my most intense memory with Facebook is my mum playing a game called ‘Farmville’ which required a Facebook account to play. She started off innocently, and slowly, it would become my responsibility that while she cooked dinner or did other things, I would harvest her crops. This is what led me to get my first account and also play the game. I was three years under the suggested age, however my interest was more inclined to my interest in computer games, especially online ones.
Over time, my friends slowly started to use the platform. I was able to post on a chronological time feed where people I knew could see my ‘random-but-obnoxious’ 13 year old mind explode with thoughts, awful memes and embarrassing photos of my pubescent years. I was really beginning to grow up with Facebook as a notebook where I could journal my thoughts, tell my friends what I was thinking and share what I found funny. When I compare this to now, I don’t nearly use Facebook the same way.
I don’t find myself jumping to log in my thoughts on Facebook for my friends, rather I’m more reserved. My online persona is an extension of myself, rather than a mirror image, and there is so many options for me to connect, share and interact with my friends online. Everyone is framing their image on Instagram, filtering themselves on Snapchat, trying to outwit each other on TikTok, and Facebook has become a place just to share content that is barely yours.
The features have completely changed. There’s no Farmville, there is no chronological order, statuses are rarely used as people have decided to shield more. I only post when something significant has happened. A birthday, an event, a trip. For the first time in a while, I decided to post a thought I had.
There was no intent for anything crazy. I didn’t think it would get much attention, but I guess using my Facebook here like a journal wasn’t a bad idea. I don’t really see any other status posts myself, so maybe when people get an in look into something that isn’t theirs and isn’t some blank-faced Facebook page, maybe they can find more from themselves while giving a like or a reaction. It feels more like a human connection then.
I share content that makes me feel something – a laugh, a bit of a mood breaker, a happy thought, and it was nice to create my own that people liked. The like system creates some form of validation, as if someone came up to you and said “hey, I like this thing too”. However, it’s everyone else’s things. Originality and sharing a true self is not seen very often online as we are now afraid for an array of reasons. Higher authorities, family members, friends, exes, and so on. We create what we want to be seen as, heck, I even know people with two Facebook accounts just to hide things from those they fear of being exposed to.
A place that felt so safe as a journal to me as a young boy, and growing up with puberty, too much access to a broad internet, and friends of all sorts around me, it’s fair to say the Facebook I grew up with isn’t the same one anymore. But, maybe that’s okay. Maybe it’s better if we are more ourselves away from our social media pages, and framing is just a way to create a portfolio for others to introspect about.
Or maybe Farmville will come back.