Today Facebook turns 10 years old–not old enough to vote, drink, drive a car, or engage in consensual shenanigans. But Facebook is old enough to have more than 1 billion users world-wide. Think about it: how hard must it be to get a billion of anything, let alone regular users?
For each the pleasures that Facebook has afforded us there is the story of a consequence of the social media site, and of social networking in general. Sure you can connect with far away friends you may have lost touch with–or read smntks which you love now– but all of your personal relationships are being leveraged to make money that you get no part in, plus your creepy ex is stalking your photo albums.
Despite today’s fond birthday wishes and general fluff pieces on Mark Zuckerberg, it hasn’t always been an easy decade for the creator or his social Frankenstein. From repeated privacy issues, and online harassment not to mention a questionable IPO, Facebook has weathered some slings and arrows with all their outrageous fortune.
For us as end users, its hard to deny that Facebook has extended the breadth of our interpersonal circle. We’re connected, right now, across the globe. Pause…that’s amazing. What’s more, we have come to believe that being widely connected is an important part of our personal life, and that sharing who we are across a huge network of people is an important task that has wider implications than pleasure. We can make change, support others, learn, share, and engage with a huge community of humanity.
As you gaze lovingly into the candles on Facebook’s cake tonight, consider this question for yourself: how has Facebook changed your personal relationships? Look at both what you are given by the hand of social media, and also what it has supplanted, replaced, or made obsolete. Is the texture of your friendships richer because of it, or have you traded, in some cases, breadth for depth, time for triviality? Chances are, it’s a bit a both.
Social networking is not something that can be destroyed or done away with, any more than the inventions of the technology that printed books, or birthed television. But like every new medium, we must consider how this baby grows. We must think about boundaries for healthy development, and building strong relationships born of the best of who we are rather than the lowest common denominator .
So happy birthday, Facebook. Here’s wishing that you grow into a fine young social network that we can all be proud of.