It used to be that I would seriously contemplate my Facebook status on my birthday because I knew people would be coming to my “Profile” to write on my “Wall.” It was an opportunity to be clever and funny, or witty and political, plug for a new favorite musician, etc. The day before my birthday, I would actually spend time thinking about a good status. These were also the days when Facebook statuses started with “Katie is… “ so obviously you had to be creative in order not to be limited by the present tense. The night before, I would set my status and prepare for my best friends (and the people who wanted to be or thought they were my bffs) to type me a “happy birthday!” message at midnight. While they were doing so, they could read the product of my deliberations, they would think I was so smart and thoughtful, and our friendship would deepen. The next time I saw them in person, they would refer to my birthday status and include a compliment about my social networking skills and/or personality. They would ask me to write statuses for them to post the day before their birthday and I would become a professional status writer for the next 40 years, but would always save the best status for my own birthday.
This communication, and dare I say hope for continued interaction, was social networking at it’s finest. So fine, that Myspace’s redeeming qualities of customized backgrounds and Top Friends couldn’t keep up.
The Status was a death sentence for other social network services. When I found out about Twitter, their whole model being centered around a limited length status to encourage succinctness, I didn’t dare get into it, seeing as how much pressure it would have been to be clever/funny/smart every day. If I was going to become a professional status writer, it would be by sheer luck, not hard work.
I don’t need to continue reminiscing Facebook’s innovations all the way to the present day, because everyone who’s on it knows the state of things. These time-saving, conflict-avoiding, relationship-voiding “innovations”:
- Sharing news articles, memes, or blog op-eds so that we can share our opinions without having to have awkward conversations made up of our own beliefs or thoughts
- Comments sections, that are our own beliefs or thoughts, designed to bite and sting so we won’t be forgotten or suffer a death by lack of likes
- Ability to completely ignore any friend and/or their opinion we get tired/sick of, without having to actually unfriend them, thereby creating a conflict and an unscripted conversation about why we are suddenly not friends anymore
There is now hope that FB is changing their algorithm, so we will see more directly from friends! Finally! How else will we communicate about our own experiences, our own plans, our lives…? It’s all there for our friends to read with their scrolling thumb on the smart phone that everyone now has. If our friends care about us enough, they’ll keep-in-touch through use of the like button, and that will be enough for our relationship.
Keep in mind a lot of this so-called communication takes place on our work breaks, or public transportation, when we’re bored, or late at night when we can’t sleep.
What’s ironic is that while I bash this technological “social” life, I’m guilty as charged. I am dramatic, post news that I agree with in order to communicate my political opinions, substitute actual conversation with friends and family with pictures or posts that I expect my friends and family to read. Obviously I’m guilty of thinking my statuses hold importance.
But if I didn’t have any hope, I wouldn’t be here. On this day. The day before my birthday. Pondering yet another birthday status. I expect to continue thinking I am clever, funny, maybe even witty. Sadly, with today’s social media, it doesn’t matter if you think I am clever, funny, or maybe even witty; the readers are for the most part, superfluous. But that’s definitely not what I want.
I want to go to the social media I’ve always dreamed of- where our relationship deepens because you read my witty post, and we talk about it later, even if only in the comments or through text messages. Where I care enough about your recent food pictures to try that restaurant or that recipe, maybe even share in it together. When good news can be announced online, but celebrated offline, without a typed congratulations to increase the attention of an algorithm.
I hope for a social network that helps me make friends and keep them, rather than destroying bonds by allowing me to be passive- or worse, attacking them for some opinion or article they’ve posted. A social media that encourages socializing, with less media from outside sources.
Thank you for reading. And liking. And thinking I am clever. Let’s be friends.