Facebook is 10

If you’re like me, you’ve been seeing your Facebook feed fill up with everyone’s Facebook is 10 videos. Maybe you’ve even clicked and watched a few. The first one is fun. Then they quickly get kind of annoying. Not just because the music is the same, but because the content is too.

Facebook is a weird weird place. Everyone’s posting their own personal propaganda to show how great their lives are. The kind of posts that get the most likes are the usual life announcements—births, engagements, weddings—which we feel obligated to respond to, or at the very least like.

Now, this isn’t the only type of activity which occurs on Facebook. But it’s all that the Facebook movies focus on. The result is a distillation of Facebook to its bot essence* where only those activities which are the most automated small talk type of activities garner enough interest to be noteworthy.

*Seriously, READ that link.

I’d be bored if I wasn’t so fascinated by the choices here. The movies are almost exclusively photos. Which means that I didn’t get one because I haven’t shared any photos—Facebook tells me I haven’t shared “enough” in general. But I share links—both to news items and my Flickr photos. And I make status updates. And I comment on other people’s items. Yet apparently all this communication is nowhere near as memorable or noteworthy or representative of my time on Facebook as posting photos.

Heck, if Facebook really wanted to show people what they’ve done in their time on Facebook, we’d be seeing videos featuring “highlights” from Farmville, Mafia Wars, Bejewelled Blitz, Candy Crush, Bitstrips, etc.

Part of me understands why photos are what Facebook considers to be the most important thing. Most Facebook updates are little more than declarations of where someone is, what they’re doing, or what just happened. So comparing text to photo to video, the photos are a nice happy medium between being more descriptive than text and something people will actually watch since, let’s face it, no one watches videos.

That said, Google demonstrated years ago now how powerful just text-only videos can be at summarizing your life so I can’t claim photos are inherently superior here. In any case, the photos which Facebook is selecting are typically tied to events where a text-only status update would also generate a similar number of likes and comments*

*The automated nature of how Facebook is choosing what photos to choose makes me think about a Flickr slideshow for its 10-year birthday (also this year) which uses just its Interestingness Algorithm. That would also be a pretty boring selection of my photos.

It’s also noting that while there’s a weekly “death of photography” article posted on the web, how Facebook’s focus appears to suggest otherwise. So many of our social norms are around the concept of photographing key events for display. The Facebook videos show that we still show off in public for the same events that my grandparents did.

I’m not an avid Facebook user but I’d love to see alternative approaches to  summarizing my time on there. Whether it’s a text-based video or one which incorporates information about who I interact with the most. I’d like to see something which doesn’t make us all look like bots and pulls out more of our individuality. I see enough of the standard small talk on Facebook enough as it is.

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at njwv.wordpress.com, and the web at vossbrink.net

2 thoughts on “Facebook is 10”

  1. I’m admittedly addicted to Facebook and the core to for me is the photos. I rarely post anything that doesn’t have a photo attached to it. And, I find that if I do, no one reads/likes/comments on it. But, I also only put relatively happy stuff on there. I guilty of being “Facebook Perfect” which I think is better than being a “Facebook Drama Queen.” You know, those over-sensitive types that post to garner sympathy — EVERY DAY.

  2. I am one of Facebook’s very light users, with the exception of about 5 years ago when I played one of the first pet related games for a couple of months. Last week as the movies came out, out of the 20 something photos in my movie, 10 were from that freaking pet. The pet in a pirate’s costume, the pet ready to go to bed with pajamas, the pet’s living room, the bathroom, the garden, etc. I also played mafia wars for a couple of weeks and I wonder, why were there no photos of the guns I collected in my movie?

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