Friday, March 1, 2024

Facebook is Turning 20 (?!) So We Take a (Very Humiliating) Scroll Back to the Very Start

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The Capsule team go on a mortifying trip down memory lane as Facebook turns 20 – won’t you join us?

Next week (February 4) is Facebook’s 20th birthday. Yes, it’s been TWENTY years since Mark Zuckerberg got so pissed off with his ex-girlfriend that he ended up founding a multi-billion dollar company (if you haven’t watched The Social Network please do!).

So what were we doing when we first signed up and logged in? In short: a lot of very embarrassing things.

We each scrolled back to the beginning, and here are the horrors we all discovered. And PLEASE – don’t just leave us to embarrass ourselves! Please email us with your early Facebook memories at [email protected]

Alice: ‘Why Did I Use Facebook to Have So Many Private Conversations in Public?’

I (thankfully?) grew up in the Land Before Time when the internet didn’t really exist. The computer in a little study nook by our living room was for entirely for playing games and looking things up on Encarta for school projects. That was, until one day we got connected up and one of my first real boyfriends set me up with a Hotmail account so that I could join the ICQ chat group and that he could officially ask me out on there. I spent HOURS on there every night (as long as my parents or brother didn’t want to use the phone – because yes, in the 90s you had to choose between one or the other).

But thankfully, the whole thing felt pretty private – there was no way of showing the world how many people liked you, or claiming a best friend (who you could then change and switch around to really start some fights – wtf, Bebo?) or poking someone you kind of knew (creepy, Facebook). I kept my internet chats to people I knew (except for one deranged day when I messaged everyone I could find on ICQ called Alice O’Connell so I could message them and say WHOA we have the same name, who are you?!), mainly because my parents, older brother and the rest of the world had convinced me that if I spoke to a stranger they would surely, ultimately end up kidnapping and murdering me.

I first heard of Facebook in 2007 when I set up an account because someone in IT at my workplace said that it was going to be the next Bebo. This sounded insane and unlikely to me. At the time, I was using Bebo for work, not personally, as CremeEdAlice, where, as the editor of Creme, I was Bebo obsessed. I would start each morning and end each night messaging readers, or going into my pet cat widget and visiting other Creme readers cats and leaving them snacks or birthday messages (it was a wild time).

I left my Facebook account entirely alone for a few years, but then suddenly discovered that I was wrong and yes, people were now using it. A lot of people.

Looking back at how I first used it is obviously always going to be a humiliating task – it’s somehow simultaneously not as bad as I thought it would be and also so much worse.

Not a lot has changed apparently in that I have always been terrible at updating my social media – there’s one or two check-ins to places, the occasional photo album from a birthday party (where I must have uploaded everything from my little canon point and shoot?!?), but most of my posts are from being tagged in other people’s posts. There are way too many photos of me that were clearly taken at 2am.

The strangest, weirdest, most embarrassing part I can find is how I apparently just used this as a place to have conversations with friends, that everyone I knew could just see?

I get that this was in the early incantations of FB, where private messages didn’t exist, but… some of the conversations I chose to have in public are truly bizarre. There’s questions about boys, plans for the weekend, thoughts about movies, a lot of “how are yoooooou? How are you feeling? What’s happening with suchandsuch?’ and equally random questions that I had no business asking people in front of everyone they knew.

To protect the people I messaged, I’m not going to be sharing screengrabs here, but here’s a sample:

One of my friends wrote on my wall: ‘Hope everything is better than last time I saw you?!?’

Another: “Did you just call me? Did I call you? I’m drunk!”

Another: “WHERE ARE YOU. I just left the bar. Going to Deschlers. CUTE boys. COME THERE.”

Oi vey.

Emma: ‘Facebook Exists To Remind Me I Did Not Handle Break-Ups Well.’

The year 2016 was bad for women globally – Trump bet Hilary Clinton – but also bad for personally, as I went through my first – and arguably worst – break-up, where the same boy broke up with me at the beginning and also the end of the same year.

Whenever Facebook offers up a ‘Emma, we thought you’d like to look back on this post from 8 years ago,’ I know we are in the danger zone of memories.

Here is one example, from break-up one (January).

The ‘cool’ caption reads: ‘Sometimes you have the kind of week where all you can do is eat a boat of sushi, you know?’

Now, I thought this was a very cool move. Obviously I was still Facebook friends with my ex at this point and needed to prove I Was Thriving. I had sent up the bat signal that I’d just been dumped and gathered a group of girlfriends to have dinner with me, because I was sad.

I thought this post was both cool – sushi: chic, glamorous, gal about town – and vulnerable – admitting I was hurt, but soldiering on. A trooper. I paused the entire dinner so that I could take this (terrible, dark) photo, come up with a cool caption and post it.

I felt proud. Brave. Creative?? I passed my phone around the table – for praise – only to be met with silence. Eventually, someone offered: “It looks like you have ordered an entire boat of sushi to eat by yourself.” Crucially, I had managed to not photograph any of my friends and the caption really did solidify the point that I was eating my feelings with a literal boat-load of food.

Luckily, I learned my lesson and in all subsequent break-ups (with this man and also other lucky, lucky gentlemen), I learned that the best move is not to revenge post, it’s to go full scorched earth, block anyone who has ever wronged you and push them out of your Facebook memories and in fact your real-life memories forever and always. It’s the best option Facebook ever gave us.

Kelly: ‘Oh God, Not the Deep-Thinking ‘I Know Everything’ 19-Year-Old Me’

If you ever want to be truly humbled, head to your first ever Facebook posts because my God, I almost don’t want to show my face to the world after the hour I’ve just spent in devolving horror.

It was 2009 – what a year – and as a fresh-faced 18/19-year-old in her first year of uni, the world was my oyster. And then Facebook came along.

The world got bigger instantly as every thought – big, small and stupid – was shared on our walls. We didn’t know the etiquette yet. We never stopped to think ‘does the wider world need to know this fleeting feeling I’ve just experienced’? No filters, no shame, no consideration. It was the wild west of social media and Jesus Christ we LOVED it. I thought I knew it all and was in that real *dEeP* stage of older adolescent thinking (not quite emo, but not quite normal either). ‘Doneburgers’ and ‘Woot’ were my words of choice, blurry uni-bar photos were my images.

It was the era of full photo albums from a night out, uploaded from your Sony Cybershot. The era of ‘Who’s Your Hollywood Twin?’ (Miley Cyrus apparently). For me, an era of niche journalism school content (Kelly Bertrand… HATES Image and Sound Paper Three) and incoherent, public conversations with my Glassons co-workers about awful customers and awful head office, interspersed with ‘deep’ song lyrics that *JuSt ReAlLy UnDeRsTaNd Me* and a truly horrendous photo album from Deep Hard and Funky (god) where my friends and I wore matching singlets from Supré and purple eyeliner, for the love of God.

But look, in the full interest of truly humiliating myself, I’ll let my screengrabs do the talking. Please enjoy my embarrassment.

… I didn’t.

Oooh that really gives you a timeframe… I’m pretty sure I was considering getting this tattooed. Thank GOD I didn’t, obviously. My friend Helene then followed this post by posting the entire lyrics on my wall, for some unknown reason.

I was in my Twilight era, what can I say – there are also photos of me wearing a Cullen crest necklace (fucking CRINGE) singing karaoke.

?! I don’t even know

Who the hell was Spiderwoman?

I…. have absolutely no words and can only apologise to Gandhi (actual spelling).

OOOOH SO DEEP – so deep NO ONE LIKED THIS POST you absolute munter.

I mean 19-year-old Kelly was NOT wrong.

Happy birthday Facebook, you bloody horrific beast of a thing.

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