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There is no such thing as Facebook

Really. There is no such thing as Facebook.

Facebooks, yes. But no Facebook.

I was reading a particularly charming status update posted by one of my friends, and suddenly it hit me: no two people have the same experience of Facebook. (In our house, we call this a U-Haul moment—when you suddenly see something obvious, like “you haul.”)

Each of us has a unique combination of friends, groups we’ve joined, and pages we’ve liked. And Facebook does god knows what with its algorithms to vary the content in our newsfeeds, based on what we’ve “liked” or commented on that day.

So if I have witty friends who tell charming stories, and you have annoying friends who badger you about playing games with them, how can we debate the value of Facebook?

If the pages I’ve liked constantly try to sell me something, while the pages you’ve liked offer helpful information, how can we discuss a common experience that doesn’t exist?

And if the groups I’ve joined have given me a new outlet for creativity and connection, while the groups you’ve joined are conflict zones—or dead space—how can we decide if Facebook is a waste of time, or a productive tool?


Standing in the web

More often than I’d like, I hear complaints about Facebook status updates.

“I don’t want to know what you ate for dinner.”

“Stop telling me about your annoying boss.”

“I don’t need to know that you’ve got the flu.”

I don’t feel that way. Quite the opposite.

There’s something about the sharing that happens on Facebook, of our daily lives, in photos, in words, that’s beautiful to me, like a symphony or tapestry.

I can almost hear the music, see the interwoven threads.

Facebook is like an enormous choir, with each of us standing in our spot, singing.

From where I stand, I can hear your voice, and your voice, and your voice, setting the strands of the web vibrating with news from your corner of the world.

Keep telling me about the strange weather you’re experiencing.

Keep showing me pictures of your grandchild.

When you visit a new place, tell me what you see.

Tell me about your dreams, and your nightmares.

And yes, I’d love to know what you had for dinner.


Photo by Martin K, used under a Creative Commons attribution license.