A few weeks ago I got an alert on Facebook notifying me of my 10 year Facebook anniversary. Ten years? Is that even possible? 2017, 2016, 2015… yikes! Indeed, it is!
In 2007 I was a junior in high school. I attended a summer camp, Girls State, where I met a lot of wonderful girls (and learned I have zero passion for legislation). What I also learned was that MySpace wasn’t THE social network anymore. When everyone said their goodbyes at the end of the camp, there were calls, “Add me on Facebook!”
Facebook? What? The only thing I knew about Facebook was that at one point in time it had been for college kids only, that there was no picture limit like old-school MySpace, and you had to post statuses in the format, “Kelsey is…”
I gave in, of course, and set up a Facebook as soon as I got home. One of the first things a friend posted on wall was, “Not gonna lie, I can’t say I saw you getting a facebook but that’s cool.” Facebook was too cool for me!
Looking back on all of those posts from my first few months on Facebook is so interesting. There are posts about teachers I forgot I had and posts from friends that I can’t seem to dig up from my memories. But there it is, all documented.
It’s funny because when I think about high school, I remember not being close with many people. These posts make me wonder if maybe I had more friends than I thought! I think it’s probably still true that I wasn’t close with too many people. I didn’t often go to other people’s houses or hang out on the weekends, and I never once attended a football game at my high school. But it’s probably just as true that maybe it’s my own fault.
People like to blame social media for all sorts of things, but one of the big ones is how anti-social it actually is. I go five years without talking to someone, but I know when their grandma died, when they go into grad school, and when they got engaged. But all of the details in between? Missing.
I wouldn’t say it’s Facebook’s fault. I think falling out of touch is a very normal, natural thing, even for generation’s past. But now there’s an added layer of knowing-but-not-really-knowing what’s happening in our friend’s (and past friend’s) lives. We don’t have to stay in touch to stay in touch. It’s very strange when I tell someone a life update (I save these up in my head for when I relative asks how I am), and they say, “Oh yeah, I saw that on Facebook.”
I’ve tried to stop doing that myself. When someone tells me something I already saw on Facebook, I let them tell me like I’m learning about it for the first time. If you can psychoanalyze that, go for it! I’d love to know what that says about me.
Every now and again I go through my Facebook friends and delete random acquaintances. If a girl has changed her name after getting married, that generally throws me. Or there’s always that person who uses a fake name on online. I’ll go to the “See Friendship” page, and sometimes there are a ton of back and forth messages between me and a person, and I still can’t figure out who the heck they are. It’s scary to know that Facebook remembers WAY more than I do.
I think I missed a lot of opportunities to put myself out there in high school, even before my Facebook days. My friends at the time didn’t know it, but I was a huge internet addict even back then. I was a member of several teen-operated message boards, spending most of my spare time chatting about movies and music with my e-friends. Socializing behind a screen was easy!
My school friends were great, I had lots of laughs and inside jokes, but anything that made me feel uncomfortable was tough for me to tackle. It’s fun and nostalgic to read through my statuses, but it also makes me sad that I could have done so much more, and I could have had much deeper, genuine connections with the people all around me.
I always thought of high school as a mandatory stepping stone to get me to college. Once I got to college, I thought, I would finally “be me.” It actually took another year of the same-old-same-old internet introversion to realize that maybe I was the thing in my way.
After two semesters of loving Florida State but not completely feeling like I had my own “thing,” I finally joined a club. Not only did I join, but I ran for pledge class president. Then secretary. Then VP. Then president of the entire chapter. What? Who is this girl? That’s not Kelsey.
I quit interneting for several years. No, I didn’t quit Facebook, but I more or less stopped posting on those semi-anonymous forums, I left my then-secret YouTube channel, and I started living in the real world for awhile.
It was wonderful. It took me a long time to find a balance between my internet life and my real life. Getting lost in superficial social media friendships was really easy, but I managed to leave college with several life-long friends.
Eventually I re-launched my YouTube channel along with this very blog. And a few years after that, I started working in social media professionally. I am so very happy with my life right now. I have a home, a wonderful husband, two loving dogs, and more than a few close friends. I don’t even have to fake our happiness with pose pictures and perfectly thought out captions – what you see is real! And, I don’t have an underground secret internet life anymore, so that’s probably a good thing.
I always look back on those lost YouTube years, thinking if I had only stuck it out I would be so much further in the blogosphere. But deep down I know it was all a necessary part of the journey to find the real Kelsey. I wouldn’t take back those years because they were some of the best years of my life!
I can’t believe it took a 10 year anniversary Facebook graphic for all of these thoughts to come flooding out. I hate to admit that social media has this kind of power over me! But. It does. And I hope to be a little more aware of that in the future.