I hate to spoil your day, but it turns out that Facebook has totally bastardized the term friends. And if I ever doubted it before, I have proof now, thanks to the response I’m seeing on those 30-second compilation videos Facebook users have been posting since last week. These compilations, offered up by Facebook in celebration of its 10-year anniversary, were no doubt intended to be more than a selfless gift to us all, more than a sweet little walk down memory lane for its supporters. No, I assume they were intended for marketing, too, and in that case, Facebook wins: Heaps of people are taking advantage of the videos, but just as many are bitching about them. Win/win for Facebook.
Guess who’s bitching about having to—no, wait, having the option to—watch a bare-bones, 30-second snippet summary of your past 5, 7, 9 or however many years on Facebook? Your “Friends.” Guess who doesn’t get a little moist in the eyes when they see your five-year journey with cancer memorialized in 30 seconds? Your “Friends.” Guess who’s bored by a half-minute reprisal of the births, deaths, weddings, reunions, and other major milestones in your life? Your “Friends.” Hmmn. Who are these “Friends” anyway? Mainly, they’re the capital-F sort that fill out your numbers on Facebook. You know, your “Friends.”
I’ll take my lower-case-f friends over those capital-F friends any day. As luck (and good sense) would have it, many of mine happen to be both. That’s why I completely dug the Look Back videos that I saw this past week on my News Feed. Because I actually care about most of the people who starred in them—like, in real life, care. And, friends, even though I might have seen these or those picture and updates the first time, whether or not I was there for the actual moments, I loved seeing them all together in one sweet celebration of your life. Not mine, yours. Want to know who the real narcissists are? They’re the “Friends” who are revolted by having to even consider looking at a 30-second video of your memories–some of which might, if they’re actually friends, include them.
Sorry, haters, but Facebook’s Look Back videos allowed for some of us to remember that we are not the center of the universe. Sorry you didn’t see it that way. Sorry you’re so jaded you could see the videos as being nothing more than that profoundly narcissistic bullshit that drives most of the Facebook juggernaut. For some people, it might have been nothing more than that, nothing more than one giant masturbatory celebration of the man in the mirror. Not for me. To start, our local news station had posted an update asking if anyone had tried to make one of these nifty videos yet. At the time, I hadn’t even heard about them, so I tried the link. The compilation hit all the right points, because it was based largely on people liking those things that I’d posted that were of utmost importance in my life. And I thought, “Hey, I bet a lot of my friends would like to see their own video, too.” Then I shared it.
Congratulations, Facebook marketers. It worked. And guess what? Most of my lower-case-f friends didn’t mind.
Maybe it’s because my lower-case-f friends are the ones who could appreciate how meaningful it was to me to see my daughter leaping with abandon on her first day of kindergarten, juxtaposed with the news of my dad receiving a heart transplant, juxtaposed with the cover of my first published book, juxtaposed with my white-water rafting trip to celebrate 14 years of marriage, juxtaposed with my husband sharing one last drink with his friend who died in Afghanistan some time after Facebook was born. I think there are many of us who enjoyed the Look Back videos because we aren’t self-aggrandizing asses. We may post our share of drivel here and there (guilty), but mostly we use Facebook to share the things that make us howl in laughter, cry in sorrow, or leap with joy, because we want our friends to be in it with us. When you use Facebook that way, it makes for a kinda neat Look Back video. When you use it to give people the blow-by-blow of your life? Not so much.
Some of us don’t sit around memorializing our every meal, workout, pedicure, duck-face, movie-we-just-watched, passive-aggressive thought, so-bored moment, restaurant check-in, and you-name-it that would become the stuff of a really boring Look Back video. If you did, sorry your Look Back video sucked. Maybe it’s an unfortunate anomaly in the algorithm Facebook used—there are bound to be some duds—but maybe it’s Facebook sending you an editing message. It’s a message that you’re oversharing the minutiae of your life. Don’t spit your sour grapes out on the rest of us by calling us the narcissists.
And maybe, just maybe, if you your friend’s Look Back videos fill you with a sense of judgment and disgust, you’re not really their friend at all. You’re more of a “Friend.” Now let’s all get back to posting those pictures of our Bloody Mary swizzle-sticks piled in weird finger-foods, and those “Dear Selfish Bastard in Front of Me at the Grocery Store” status updates that make us barely smile but still type “LOL!” After all, that’s what “Friends” are for. To my friends, though, please keep sharing your Look Back videos. Your life matters to me, and I love being a witness to the things that truly make it a life.