Facebook’s Evolution from the Original Social Network

Column by Taylor Grace Suiter, Senior from Brentwood, Tennessee

“Back when I joined Facebook there wasn’t a ‘like’ button. If you thought your friend’s status was funny, you had to have the gumption to type out ‘Hahahahahha YAAAAAS!’ We didn’t even have a share button. It was a different time back then.”  – Me, in the future, maybe.

Back in 2008, I joined Facebook.

The habit of posting statuses, notes and uploading albums of pictures soon became natural. It was awesome – content generated by the individuals I called “friends” in a format much more streamlined than the MySpace pages which came before it.

I loved writing about how my day was, making jokes as my statuses and complaining about whatever homework I was avoiding from my homepage. I liked reading my peers’ thoughts and seeing their photos.

I’m not sure when the shift happened, but it seems that today the original social media site has become anything but original.

Log into your Facebook and I promise that 75 percent, if not more, of the things you see on your newsfeed are some type of viral footage of a kid doing something adorable but staged, a video of a quick, easy (and probably fattening) recipe or broadly-targeted, text-only images. “Share this if you have a sister who you love” rings a bell. The people I notice participating most in this “Share if” cycle are my older family members.

The same generation who joined Facebook to keep up with long-lost college roommates and high school classmates are the ones who share nothing about their own lives on the site.

Instead, they cycle around the same greeting-card-generic sentiments without thought. As much as I love seeing that my aunt loves Jesus and her corgis by re-sharing an image, I would rather read something she wrote herself.

Perhaps this is why non-Millennials connect with today’s Facebook so much more than they do with other forms of social media like Twitter, Instagram and, more recently, Periscope.

These other platforms encourage the individual using them to generate their own content in order to participate.

The Facebook of today allows you to update your profile without saying anything yourself. The same image that’s been shared by 300,000 other people now appears on your profile, too.

The “share” has become as automatic as a “like,” sometimes to our embarrassment.

Perfect example: the other day my stepfather shared a photo from “I’m Only A Whore When I’m Drunk.”

It was a photo about finding your soul mate, which he directed at my mom by tagging her.

It had nothing to do with drinking or being promiscuous and it’s not like he liked that page. It was simply a sweet poem which had simply showed up in his newsfeed from another friend that he decided to share, tagging my mom along the way.

He had no idea that his modern attempt at a romantic gesture was totally overshadowed by the name of the page he had shared it from.

I think a sweet status written by himself would have done the trick.