Andrea Langworthy's column: Happy birthday, Facebook
In honor of its 10th birthday, Facebook sent gifts to its members — a video tableau of photos and most-liked posts from the member’s page, the present is set to music and lasts a minute. Once the gift is opened, recipients can share it with their friends on the social media site.
If you’re not a Facebook follower, here’s how it works: Members post pictures of family, pets, photos they’ve taken of themselves while sitting at a stop sign or at a coffee shop (called “selfies”) and inspiring anecdotes, too. Some share videos or political rants. If one of their Facebook friends likes a post, he or she can click on the thumbs up sign beneath it. Or take advantage of the option to make a comment expressing agreement or dissention.
So far, a dozen or more of my Facebook friends have shared their gift video with me. There’s a page of “first moment” pictures; a collage, really. The year the person joined is displayed along with a small headshot from that time. The video and “most liked” posts follow.
When I was a youngster, I believed the television was stuffed with tiny people and animals — those who appeared in shows like “Amos and Andy” and “The Lone Ranger.” When I saw the first birthday video compliments of Facebook, that’s where my mind went. I had a child-like picture of the backroom chaos at the company as workers scurried around trying to pull photos and posts for hundreds of millions of subscribers.
Of course, that’s not how it happened. Facebook has instant access to everything anyone has ever posted.
I was late to Facebook. My daughter set up my page for me. I had some friend requests waiting to be confirmed or put on hold but not that many. Kind of like my school days. I had friends back then but wasn’t the girl everyone followed around or every boy wanted to date.
Some of the people with whom I became friends on Facebook must have been the really, really cool kids in school, though. They have hundreds of friends. A friend of a friend had over 1,000. If this was a popularity contest, it was easy to see I wasn’t going to make much of a social media impression.
As I watched the birthday videos my friends received and then sent to me, I was able to see how many “likes” they had for their most popular posts. I got a familiar sinking feeling in my stomach. Fifty-five. Sixty-three. Over 100? I clutched my gut. Did I have even one that topped two dozen?
I was back in grade school again, on the playground as a girl began handing out invitations to her birthday party. “We’re going to a movie,” she said as the pile in her hand began to dwindle. I worried my name wouldn’t be on one of them. It’s the same feeling I have when I send a friend request to someone.
My gift from Facebook finally arrived. No matter how hard I try, it won’t open. I click on it and click again and it stays shut. Maybe it’s just as well.