What It Means To Be Part Of The Facebook Generation


When I became a freshman in college I, like many, many, many others, joined Facebook. At first it was a great way to keep in touch with fellow college friends and was more or less a glorified inside joke. Then it grew. It was a many legged octopus spreading on the ocean floor, growing and twisting and evolving. It really was incredible to see what was happening, at first everyone grew angry or annoyed with updates but like our ancestors we evolved and adapted and suddenly the change wasn’t a change any more. It was the norm. I, for the life of me, cannot remember what it was like when I was a freshman in college. I just remember liking it way more than I should have.

Then my mom joined Facebook. That. Changed. Everything. I was now a censored version of myself. I had to remember with every post I made, with every link I shared, with every sarcastic comment I just had to make – what would my mom think? As the youngest of the family I was the baby and thus doomed to remain the innocent child who constantly needed to be protected from the awfulness of the world. There was no way this sweet angel could ever say or do anything even borderline nefarious. Right?

Absolutely. Not. Wait. Maybe. Yes. No. OK, yes. So like the Stalin of the Internet, I like many, many, many, others began a great purge. Was that inappropriate? I can’t really gauge these things anymore.

Ah, that’s better. Let’s get rid of a few drunken party pictures, some coarse language posts involving bosses and teachers and tests and papers. Much better. Now I was presentable to the world., my parents, and any potential future employers. Since we’ve all heard of employers going on their employees profiles to see how they behave in their off time. But that was all taken care of now. Yes, my personal and professional lives had meshed into one public entity on the internet.

But then something I don’t think I ever saw coming happened. Something that took me a really long time to fully understand the significance of. I highly doubt Mark Zuckerburg could have ever imagined what he created in his dorm at Harvard would one day turn into. Something I remember seeing one day when I logged onto Facebook. Something that ostensibly shattered my universe.

My high school girlfriend posted an ultrasound picture of her unborn baby. I’m pretty sure I fell out of my chair. How? Why? What would ever possess anyone to do this? Now. ladies, I understand you’re proud and the creation of life is a beautiful and magical thing. But ultrasound pictures look like sea-monkeys or the Doppler radar. But as gross as those pictures are to me the proud and happy moms will continue to post them for the enjoyment of themselves and their parents and whoever else enjoys looking at grainy and gray-scaled Jackson Pollock style paintings.

Then my old roommate got married and had a daughter. She is adorable and healthy and has eyes larger than lake Eerie. Now this was someone I actually cared about sharing the journey of his life with his friends. And more importantly the journey of his daughter. Now, home movies and pictures, and photo albums, and trinkets, and scrapbooks, and mementos are absolutely not uncommon whatsoever to your average family. People have been documenting the lives of their children since before the word documenting even existed.

But Facebook has taken this to a whole new level. I’m talking every single second of their lives are now public domain. This is a generation whose entire existence is going to be on the internet. I never realized just to what extent this would be until I started thinking about the future of my friend’s daughter and how when you scroll back to the beginning of the timeline on my Facebook profile there is a large gap from the time I was born until my first semester of college.

However, for the children born post Facebook they will literally have terabytes upon terabytes of their lives entirely online. From their first steps until their last breaths (as long as Facebook remains in existence) we are looking at life from an entirely digitally recorded perspective. We are entering a time of complete removal of uncertainty of the past. Where my family and I argue over dates, and times, and locations of past events, now there is concrete digital evidence of any event we deem significant enough to tag ourselves in. Whether it’s a trip to Disneyworld, a visit from Santa Clause, or even their first day of Harvard where they can go on to make a program even better than Facebook, the point is it will all be unequivocally laid out from beginning to middle to end with digital lucidity. Unlike my freshman year of college. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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Nick Bente

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