Right when I thought I was out, they pull me back in
Why I Want Facebook To Last Forever
After a three month hiatus from Facebook, I decided to return last week.
I felt that obsessively checking status updates, clicking on links and forgetting the content ten minutes later, looking at pictures of my friend’s kids, and getting into circuitous political debates was taking way too much of my time. So I quit cold turkey. It was easy.
A few weeks ago, some of my students asked me if they could add me on Facebook. I thought at first that I might be crossing some boundaries in letting my students into my personal life (and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to know what was going in theirs). But I ended up relenting because I figured that I never went on Facebook anyway and there really wasn’t any sordid details that my students would find out about me.
Or was there?
The Haunting Past
I logged on the next day to accept my students’ friend request. I’m not sure why it was so imperative that I accept them right away, but I felt some sort of insane duty to complete the task.
While hitting the “accept” button, I started to think about the pictures I had available for viewing. It had been years since I last looked at my pictures and I wasn’t even sure if I’d ever filtered out the incriminating ones. This could be bad.
I furiously combed through my pictures. I knew that the last few years hadn’t contained anything remotely controversial; trips to Europe, days at the beach, average nights out, nothing groundbreaking.
But when I kept digging, some scandalous photos eked out. The first was a picture of me at the Rock The Bells festival held at the Comcast Center (or Verizon Center? Fios Arena? Eh, it doesn’t matter). I remember this day as the one where we drank jungle juice in the parking lot for two hours before stumbling in through the gates, my mind wondering how the security guard could have possibly let us in. The picture featured me in possibly the least graceful pose one could imagine. There I was with a soulless look, grass stained knees crawling on the ground, shirtless, my butt crack saying hello out of the tops of my filthy shorts.
They could not see this.
And it continued. Back a few months earlier in my photo collection was a barrage of photos from a cross-dressing party given for my twenty-fourth birthday. The stream of pictures began innocent enough, with ladies donning cowboy wear and guys in mustaches rocking tank tops and mini-skirts. Besides me making a terrifying woman, it was all good so far. But then I come across one with my skirt hiked up as I give a lap dance to a girl in a suit.
By the end of the series, my dress was torn completely off, only tighty-whities covering my equally white body. I have no idea how these pictures ended up on Facebook, but it was frightening to say the least.
I deleted the pictures, but not before taking a little (confused) trip down memory lane. Scanning through my pictures, I realized that Facebook could actually serve a valuable function in our lives.
Facebook As Biographer
Everyone wants to leave behind a story. I once thought of a great business idea (which, like all others, I never followed up upon) where I would be contracted to write other’s biographies. It’s a sad thought, but most of us end up in the trash bin of history once our immediate family leaves the Earth. I hate to bum you out, but most of us will be forgotten in the long line of history.
But maybe Facebook can change this.
Looking through my pictures was like reliving moments of my life. I could see the progression from post-college doofus to (semi) responsible adult and it was nothing short of fascination. This all happened without me realizing how the change took place. Facebook helped me piece together my own life.
Having these photographs of our lives openly available allows us to live on into the future. I imagine that generations of the future will relax their human gills and see that people once dressed in the opposite gender’s clothes for fun or expose our private parts for no reason. They will also be able to see a realistic human development into old age and perhaps learn a thing or two about what it really looks like to grow up in this world.
It’s inevitable that some new website or app or uninstallable robotic device will someday take over Facebook. If I wanted to deep even deeper I could check out the myriad pictures on Myspace, although I’m pretty sure by now my Myspace account is probably serving as a squatter space for Russian hackers, since I haven’t logged onto the site in years.
But I sincerely hope Facebook sticks around, if only to show us a time capsule of our lives, to allow our identities to live on beyond our bodies and to show the world what jackasses we once were.