Yesterday, Facebook greeted me with the news that it was my tenth anniversary on the platform. Ten years. That’s a couple years after it was invented and spread through the colleges and more than a few years before my wife, everyone’s mother and everyone else in the world joined. And that was nine-plus years before many people started shutting down their profiles or stepping away because they couldn’t deal with what was written there every day.
When I joined, there “only” were 50 million users. Now it’s into the billions.
Back in 2007, there were these things called walls – you now know them as timelines. There were no ads. No pages. We poked each other a lot. The status update started with “Jonathan Dalton is …” and, without looking back, I am virtually certain my first update concluded with “has no idea why he’s here” or words to that effect.
Ten years later, I feel the same way. I mean, I can’t ever imagine a time when I’d want to see someone’s vacation photos but I look – not to see them in most cases, but just to see the scenery of places I’ve never visited and may never get to go see myself.
But that’s not really the problem. Neither are the silly emoji comments are the pointless colored backgrounds for status updates or all the rest. Facebook and it’s bastard cousin Twitter have created a culture where everyone is convinced their opinions are brilliant. And let me tell you straight out – they rarely are.
When the president says something, someone questions the truth of what was spoken and the inevitable so-called defense is, “well what about Hillary’s e-mails,” we’re more or less at the apocalypse.
When people throw around the phrase Fake News because Sean Hannity has nothing worthwhile to say and resorts to it night after night, yet they believe what a lunatic like Alex Jones says, we’ve gone off the deep end.
This plays out day after day on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. I find myself, despite my own best sense, jumping into the fray because I’ve always believed facts deserve to be aired and the truth ought to be supported. But I also know I’m shouting into the wind.
Now and again you’ll see someone say Facebook shouldn’t be a place for politics or for this or for that. Well, actually it is. There’s never been a constraint on what it should or shouldn’t be, aside possibly from hope for common sense. Which also doesn’t exist anymore.
Social media platforms, like much of the country in general, have become a morass of shouting without listening, anger without understanding, hate without shame. Once upon a time, you could just get a feeling someone was racist, homophobic, whatever. Now you can see it right there on their Timelines where the words are proudly posted.
To tell the truth, if that had been what was waiting there back in 2007, there’s not a chance I would have signed up.