Before I begin, most of what I say will be based on this video::
Before I begin, I just want to share my online history, for context.
In 2001, I went online for the first time ever. I was never allowed to even touch the family c0mputer until that day. My family had to go out of town for some reason (don’t remember what), but I was sick that day so my parents let me stay behind. My stepfather logged into the computer and said, “Have fun”. It was a shock and I approached the computer with disbelief, expecting my stepfather to switch it off and say, “PSYCH!”. But he didn’t. Almost as soon as my family left, something popped up. I didn’t know what it was, but it said “Yahoo! Messenger”. It was a message from someone for my sister. Apparently the computer automatically logged her in. I talked to my sister’s friend on YIM and she became the very first person I ever talked to online.
I didn’t get online again until 2003, when I joined a class in high school called “Webmastery”. The teacher said, “Open Internet Explorer and go to Google”. Within a few seconds, every computer was on Google’s homepage except mine. I didn’t know what Internet Explorer was, much less what this Google thing was. She asked me why I had yet to do as I was asked, and I told her I didn’t know how. Everyone in the room laughed. It was like in Bridge to Terabithia when Leslie Berke says she didn’t have a TV at home.
At the end of the year, that teacher gave me a “Student of the Year” plaque. I tend to be a fast learner when it comes to computers.
Anyway, still in 2003. Part of the criteria for the class was you were required to have an email address. Once again, I was laughed at for not knowing what that was. I remembered Yahoo! Messenger, so went to Yahoo!’s website and created my first ever email address (out of thousands I’ve made. I don’t know if I’m exaggerating…). After class that day I went to all my friends and said, “I HAVE AN EMAIL ADDRESS!!”, to which they all said, “Uh, yeah? Who doesn’t?”.
A few months later, in 2004, a friend introduced me to a site called MySpace. I joined it and really liked it at the time. I loved customizing my layouts and making it as unique as possible. I would change it every week or two. I also liked how you could change your MySpace name to anything you wanted. There was a character limit, and my favourite MySpace name I ever used took up every character. I had a picture of Samara climbing out of the TV and my name was “I’m Only Climbing Out Of The TV To Say Hi!”. My layout that week was, of course, The Ring. It looked SO cool, and was tons of fun to make.
Sometime in 2005, I tried joining a site called Friendster, but, like, five people told me that that’s an “uncool” site. Everyone already did that before MySpace, so no one uses it now. It’s just a shell of a site with spambots being most of the accounts. The two days I had my account there I received several messages, and all of them were “Hey, baby, email me a picture of yourself”. Even back then I knew that was a fake. But the point is, MySpace was the site everyone was at.
It’s 2007 and I’m wandering why no one messages me on MySpace anymore. Someone, that person I first talked to my first time online….yes, we stayed friends to this day…tells me everyone has moved to a site called Facebook. I’m reluctant to move because MySpace is forever. They just revealed Profile 3.0, and I had a whole new typeto try out. But, of course, I gave in on 20 September 2007.
Thank you, Timeline!
So even though Facebook didn’t let you change layouts, use any name but your real name, and *gasp* NO MUSIC?!… I still joined it. At first it was just a side account. I still considered MySpace my online home. But by 2009, I started using Facebook more and more until, in 2011 (yes, that long), I stopped signing into MySpace.
Now onto that video. In case you didn’t watch it and don’t feel like scrolling up, here it is again.
For starters, Clive Thompson says that Facebook will never be as big as it was last year, saying it’s not fun and fresh, and that the young people are using SnapChat and Whatsapp “and what not” (I had to laugh when he said that). Well, this assumes that only teenagers use the internet. That if all the young people left Facebook and moved to G+ or Diaspora that Facebook will cease to exist. It’s possible for a site to stay the same and yet keep it’s members. I don’t stay on Facebook because I want to see what features they’ll add next. I stay on Facebook because it’s quite literally an online home. I’ve had my account for nearly seven years, and I have seven years of memories on the site. Statuses from when important things happened, pictures from forever ago that I don’t have anywhere else. I have messages in my inbox from friends who passed away years ago. There are memories on that site that can’t compere with any feature they add.
It also doesn’t hurt that they DO expand the site constantly. I was excited when they added Graph Search to the site. When they added Timeline profiles. When they let you connect pretty much everything to your Timeline. I am a huge music fan and I am always listening to music. Right now I am listening to Johnny Mercer on Spotify.
I love how when I listen to music everyone sees it. It lets me advert music I love. Several friends of mine have told me they’ve found music they never would have otherwise had they not seen it on my Timeline. I found Zedd the same way.
Which leads me to something else Clive said. He mentions “weak links”, which are basically people you don’t know very well and don’t associate with often, and “strong links”, which are your “BFFs” and family and people who know you very well and you know them. There are a bunch of people I know who want to have people in their life who is just like them. Anyone who is different from them or has differing opinions about anything are considered “boring” or a “threat”. Well, I think I would rather be surrounded by people that are totally different than people who are all the same. Pretty much all the music, books, movies, etc I like are because someone different from me suggested it. I never would have even considered giving Desperate Housewives a chance, but someone close to me suggested it so I tried it, and it’s actually one of the best shows I have ever seen.
The reason I told my story at the beginning of this was to point out how different things are today as opposed to before. Before, MySpace was IT. Everyone was on MySpace. Friendster was a thing of the past. Then when MySpace burned out, everyone flocked over to Facebook. But Facebook never burned out. People spread their online roots into Facebook, and suddenly it was okay to branch out. Want to join G+? Join G+. Want to join Diaspora? By all means, join Diaspora. Twitter? You’d be crazy not to join, Tumblr? Instagram? Whatsapp? Flickr? OKCupid? Heck, join them all if you want!
Heck, even MySpace is back. Of course, it’s nowhere close to what it used to be, but once it stopped trying to compete with Facebook and rebranded itself as a music site instead of a social network, MySpace found itself back on the map. You could upgrade your old account to the new MySpace, so the account I have now is the same one I created in 2005. Next year will be ten years I’ve had it, and I use it again now.
Is Facebook relevant? Of course it is. So are most of the site I listed up there. They might not be a big as Facebook, and maybe someday neither will Facebook, but that doesn’t mean we need to look for the “next big thing”. Sure, Facebook has countless bugs and issues and they constantly change the site and we all groan about it, but we always get used to the change, because most of the time it’s for the better. Timeline is much better than the old profiles. Combining the chat and inbox was pure genius.
Facebook is now my online home. Not because of layouts or name changes or a fun feature they added. But because Facebook has become a central hub of my online life. Everything comes back to Facebook. When I post this, it’s going to automatically post to Facebook, and that Facebook post will auto-post to Twitter, and that Tweet will auto-post to Tumbr. I’m much more tech-savvy than I was in 2001, but this fact alone still amuses me.