Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Brief History of (My Time on) Facebook

I have recently been thinking about how Facebook has changed since I began using it. We all talk about the differences but since I have lots of time on my hands, I'm going to detail the changes. A special thanks to the "Criticism of Facebook" Wikipedia article. I could not do this post without you.

Wikipedia tells me that Facebook started in February of 2004. It was originally limited to only Harvard students but that's irrelevant because I did not attend Harvard. In fact, I was still in high school. I heard about Facebook from my brother Paul. You see, Mark Zuckerberg's sister went to the University of Chicago so they were one of the first colleges to be on Facebook after Harvard. It should also be noted that at some point in 2004 or 2005, my brother was kicked off of Facebook because the name License to Funk: The Paul B. Story was not acceptable. This is no joke. So at first, Facebook was for college students while teenagers, common folk and emo kids were on MySpace.

In September of 2005, after opening Facebook up to gradually more colleges and then all colleges, a high school version of Facebook was created. High schools with email addresses were added. You need to understand that few high schools in 2005 had email accounts. Fortunately for me, my high school had decided to get all tech savvy and we had email. I joined my high school's network on Facebook and there were literally 12 of us in it. I might even be overestimating that. So, I had an account but never really used it. Apparently, college Facebook and high school Facebook were combined in February of 2006 according to Wikipedia. Honestly, I did not notice. Wikipedia also tells me that some college students did not like this and felt Facebook was no longer exclusive. I laugh at this. It was still somewhat exclusive. I bet you wish for the good ole days when it was just college and high school students.

When I went to college in August of 2006, I joined my college's network and started using Facebook obsessively as a legitimate college student just in time for Facebook to open up to everyone the next month. Facebook was open to anyone but it still remained mostly college and high school students. Most of the people who joined that were not college or high school students were people who were college age but did not go to college. It made sense. Around the same time came the stalker feed. I mean the news feed. It told us everything we never knew we didn't want to know. People protested through Facebook groups. Those first few days, pretty much everyone's news feed was filled with So and So joined the group 1 Million Strong Against the News Feed. many people commented on their own penis. It was the first Facebook controversy that I can remember. People got down right hostile about it. Then, Mark Zuckerberg apologized and explained how we could set privacy features so not everything we did appeared in the news feed. People seemed satisfied enough with this.

Facebook still had the college and high school networks and with the addition of everyone to Facebook, regional networks were added. I joined the Chicago network and now was in three networks. Pretty much anyone I wanted to Facebook stalk was in one of my three networks. So I could stalk these people within my networks without being their friend. It was amazing. Few people set their profiles to private. If their profile was private, they obviously were hiding something. Most people were fine sharing information with people within their networks. And no one seemed to care what pictures they posted. I mean, there was always one sober person who documented the craziness and then posted the pictures of their drunk friends. Totally amazing, right? Since it was mostly college students, there was no reason to have any other kind of pictures.

Wikipedia tells me that albums were originally limited to 60 photos. I swear it was only 40 photos but perhaps I was misinformed. Now, the limit is apparently 200 photos per album (since May 2009). That seems unnecessary. Especially since the number of photos I've uploaded has decreased greatly in the last few years. Perhaps this will be helpful to me someday when I get married and upload every single picture to Facebook and then have lots of babies and post 200 pictures of my newborn spawn. I kid. I will never do that. I promise. If I do, you have permission to defriend me.

The next big change for Facebook came in May 2007 with the introduction of applications. I like applications just fine. I enjoy my Colbert Report application. I became obsessed with Flair. There are a few other applications that I have but don't really use. Some people became obsessed with applications and quite frankly, it interfered with my Facebook stalking of them. It became unbelievably annoying when I wanted to see what people said on their wall and I would have to scroll down forever to get to their wall.

This was an interesting time on Facebook. A time when people still needed to adapt their status update to begin with [insert name] is.... You had to give credit to the people who tried (ie. Sarah is wondering why it is so hot in her room). Some people didn't even make an attempt (ie. Sarah is OMG!!!1! Why is it so hot in here?) And some people used the first person along with the third person (ie. Sarah is wondering why it is so hot in my room). I assume that old Facebook status updates made English majors cry. I assume that most Facebook status updates still make English majors cry. Well, people wanted the "is" to be removed from status updates. Again, people created Facebook groups to protest. In December 2007, this wish was granted. Victory for all Facebook users. Free at last to use whatever verb we wanted in our status.

In the summer of 2008 when Facebook gave the option to use the "new" Facebook, I chose to stick with the Facebook that I knew. Then, I was forced to use this "new" Facebook. There were tabs, the wall and mini feed joined together and there was this little box that I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to write there. I just didn't like the change. I know that Facebook went out of their way to prepare me for this change, but I still did not like. Some people joined groups to protest but I was too lazy. I got over it. But I complained a lot.

I'm not really remembering anything huge happening throughout most of 2009 except that everyone and their mother joined Facebook. When Paul refused my mother's friend request, she said "You're dead to me." I kid you not. In November or December, Facebook changed the privacy settings because networks were getting too big or something like that. So basically, networks mean nothing any more and most everyone has their profile set to private. Way to make Facebook stalking difficult, Facebook. It's not like I'm a crazy person. I only stalked people I knew but didn't even like enough to be Facebook friends. I'm nosy, that's all.

And then, there was yesterday when I checked Facebook then went to class for 2 hours and was welcomed to the "new and improved" Facebook home page. It was easy for me to ignore notifications when they were at the bottom of the page but now they stare me in the face in the upper left corner. Stop changing, Facebook. You didn't add anything really. Everything is just in a different place. I'm going to let you in on a little secret, Facebook. I'm like a trained monkey. Most of what I do, I don't think about. When something changes slightly, it throws me off. I'll get used to Facebook again but give me at least a couple months before you change it again.

Facebook really is a lot different then when I started using it. There is so much more to do on there and yet I use it a lot less. I don't know. Maybe I have less time to spend on there. Maybe I don't have as many people to talk to on there (the turn over rate on my friends is suprisingly high). Or maybe all the changes have taken the fun out of Facebook. It was distinctly college. I used it to look up people in my classes. I would look at the drunken pictures that were posted the day after a crazy party. I actually cared about who was in a relationship with whom and whether it was complicated or not. You know, important things like that. Now, everyone has family photos and wedding photos and pictures of their children. It just saddens me to see how much it has changed. Facebook seemed like a rite of passage. Now, my mom farms on Facebook.

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