Dearest and most avid of Facebook fans, welcome. We are here today to pay tribute to, and celebrate the life of, the Facebook we once loved. The Facebook that actually used to be called ‘The Facebook.’ Our inner 11-year-old selves will cherish your memory fondly forever.
Okay, Facebook is still very much alive. Sure, it’s still the number one social networking site for internet users. But it’s not to us. Facebook is dead to anyone that loved it back when it first landed on our Internet Explorer browsers.
In the early 2000s when MSN messenger and dial-up internet on an old desk in a back cupboard somewhere in the home was a thing, Facebook was the perfect virtual escape in the days of when the internet was still young. Finally, a site that didn’t show cartoon animals maiming each other (Happy Tree Friends, anyone?) or give your computer a thousand viruses. Where you whooped when your friends list hit ten people. Mates who were all in your year at school and the friends you saw every day. No family, no friends of friends, and certainly no adults.
Never had there been, and never will there ever be, an easier or more effective stalking tool. Visiting your crush’s page for the third time in an hour was par for the baby Facebook’s course. You didn’t even have to be friends with the popular girls. Or your friend’s brother’s tennis partner to know his star sign, his school or that he grew up in Cape Town. Yes, it was a bit creepy looking back, but still. So cool!
Facebook also became a little after-school club for kids who only saw their friends during study hours. You could write silly messages on each other’s walls, start poking wars and post photos, knowing that all your friends could see and enjoy them instantly. It was hilarious, exciting, addictive and ours. Our secret meeting place away from parents and teachers, where kids could just hang out and be kids. Swear, yell, and start poke wars until we got tired and went to bed.
That Facebook is dead to us now. It began its descent the moment parents discovered they could make accounts and force us to add them, even forcing our close friends to add them. Slowly but surely the drunken photos and stupid statuses began to dry up. You can’t comment “HAHA” on someone passed out when their Mum’s disappointment is the post above yours. It was never meant to turn out this way. The adults were never supposed to know – or if they knew, they were never to supposed to think they were invited to join.
Then came the News Feed. Whose stupid idea was the News Feed? The News Feed ruined everything. Facebook’s heyday was when it was a Rolodex of everyone you’ve ever known or met. Friends and acquaintances whose personal lives you could dip in and out of whenever you felt the urge. The News Feed obliterated this dream by publicising everything. We might want our best friends, maybe even the fit guy we met at a food truck last year, to see our new profile picture – but do we want our exes who we can’t delete because we’re trying to keep things civil to see it? No! Do we want people we haven’t talked to in three years to like our holiday photos? No! But do we want to delete them from our friends list? Also no. You can’t just cut people out like that, Facebook. Do you see how complicated you’ve made things?
Now, look at Facebook circa 2017. It’s a glorified 9gag (remember 9gag?). Just a meme recycling platform, except people aren’t actually embarrassed to be caught using it.
So yes, Facebook is still alive. It’s still the biggest site online, but we’re calling it anyway. Facebook, it was fun, but it will soon be time to pull the plug on this long-term relationship. We don’t like you anymore, so we’ll use Whatsapp and Instagram instead. The youth of today are all on Snapchat now. You know the only thing keeping us together is Messenger, and once that goes, you own Whatsapp anyway so no hard loss. You’ll either continue to wither away or attract more and more parents and grandparents. Which is worse, nobody knows.
Words: Mimi Davies