I remember reading about thefacebook in a paper copy of The Crimson at breakfast, and going back to my room to sign up on my Dell desktop because I thought it was a pretty good idea and became user number 1082.

I remember when Facebook memorialized your early adopter status with “member since” on your profile page. Member since: February 9, 2004.

I remember when we used our Facebook interest in movies and bands as coded signals which became the fodder for flirtation. 

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I remember getting upset when the Newsfeed consolidated all our activity in one place because it meant that you didn’t have to go to friends’ individual pages to hunt for updates to their profile. 

I remember when Nick joined Facebook so he could post pictures from our trip to London together.

I remember being shocked that my brother was using Facebook to friend people in his college program before he got to college.

I remember when I purged my Facebook of tagged photos, wall posts, and inane profile interests to prepare for the job search.  

I remember when my mom joined Facebook.

I remember when I had my Facebook portrait painted by Matt Held.

I remember when Facebook asked me about my fiancé and showed me an ad for custom engagement rings.

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Some of it is still there, in the archived messages and pictures. And it’s all probably still there in the servers, somewhere. But some of it is lost to me when I deleted it. Expecting that it might mean something in the future, I saved some of it. There’s a folder of embarrassing old Facebook profile images on my desktop that have since been deleted from my profile. And there’s a word doc where I copied my profile interests and band favorites before I deleted them all.

Facebook was still important to me over the last year when I went back to school and communicated with the rest of my cohort at OII. And when I was away in China it was a connection to home, as long as I could get through over VPN.

And it’s still the place where I keep up to date on my friends and families lives, even though we’re far dispersed. It does the work of updating us on major life events so that we can have more meaningful conversations when we reunite with old acquaintances in person.

But now Facebook is all spammy friend requests and birthday timeline posts. And Facebook keeps asking for more from us. It prompts us to share our “life events” and to share where we’ve worked. 

Facebook used to be a place where nuanced interactions happened. Flirtations, pokes, inside jokes, hidden meanings. I no longer think of my audience on Facebook as friends, acquaintances, humans. Instead, it’s the machine. It’s the algorithms, churning on all the data that’s in my profile and my status updates.

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AuthorSara M. Watson