Facebook: The Journal of Our Times

Before Facebook, unless you kept a diary or wrote a blog, there was little recording of day-to-day events in most people’s lives. Some people made baby books for their children, but mostly just for their first or second child. But now, the combination of smartphone cameras and mobile apps, documenting our lives has never been easier and never before have more people done it.

Enough time has passed since the mass adoption of Facebook in 2009 for us to see how people are using it long-term. We know what people like and what they hate. We know who their friends are. We know when they start relationships and when they end them. We know what they looked like when they were younger and what they look like now. We know everything someone is willing to share.

Suzanne's Blog

Before Facebook, my wife used to blog about what was going on in the house, about her pregnancies, and about milestones with the kids. Now that’s all on Facebook. If I wanted to create a story of our last 5 years together, that’s where I’d look. And our baby books are on there, too. We still have real-life baby books, but we certainly aren’t printing any of our pictures.

What will become of this information?

As a society we’ve all invested so much into this platform. While Facebook’s Timeline feature helps to sort through it all and services that help you print Facebook help, there is still a general anxiety I feel about how we will overcome the White Album Problem. Most people don’t remember Collegeclub.com, but that was a platform like Facebook that one day just disappeared.

And the other side of the coin is that this information will never be deleted and we will always have a perfectly searchable memory of everything that’s ever happened. Nothing will ever be forgotten. No friend is ever left behind. That’s not how the mind works. That’s not how life used to work. We used to forget, move on, and get on with life. Now it’s all just a click away.

Why do I still blog in a post-Facebook world?

I own this domain. I pay for this hosting account. I control what the website looks like and when it changes. I control my own backups. I am not subject to Facebook’s rules. I can download my data whenever I want. I can make my content look like whatever I want. In short – it’s my own platform where I can tell my own story over time regardless of what Facebook is or does, but that’s not the only reason I blog.

I know there is some benefit to me in the short term to be able to flesh out ideas and some value in the long term to be able to look back on what I was thinking or working on, but I didn’t know if it was actually of value to other people. I considered my blog a ‘failure’ because it doesn’t get that many visitors for the posts I care about, there are little to no comments, and little to no email newsletter sign-ups.
It turns out that those metrics aren’t the only ones that matter as people have reached out to me in other ways to let me know they’re reading. You don’t always know what effect you’re going to have on people and you may never know, but if you don’t put yourself out there, you’re reducing that chance. This small bit of encouragement helps. I’m glad you also read my blog.