It’s been ten years. Ten years since some posh US school nerds developed an exclusive social network for themselves, probably to make the scoring out of ten of their female colleagues’ attractiveness a little bit easier.
Then it went global and, because we all sit on computers all day and like looking at photos of other people and gossiping, it somehow became almost compulsory to have a Facebook profile – if only for reassuring people and distant family members you used to know that you’re still not dead.
Facebook’s 10th anniversary celebrations saw the social network generating a weird "Look Back" greatest hits video compilation, which came across as part interactive funereal wake presentation and part letter from your most obsessed stalker.
It was cute, but has Facebook really changed our lives to such an extent that we’d miss it if it was gone? It certainly spearheaded the self-obsessed, narcissistic, selfie generation we now see, encouraging the internet warriors of the mid-2000s to emerge from behind their anonymous avatars and start writing online under their actual names.
But given how much people hate it – and how many people claim to never even use it – you’d think Facebook was still used by a handful of kids, not the 1.2 billion people who regularly log in.
"Darling, who’s Sarah Perkins?"
The bitterness is everywhere. Beneath a workmanlike SEO list feature on the Daily Star, reader Jon Scott came up with an additional way in which Facebook has changed lives over the last decade, suggesting: "Fact 11: Facebook has split up more families and ruined more marriages than any other website."
Only if you leave yourself signed in, Jon. Incognito mode, sign out, delete cache after every visit and it’s all fine.
Guardian reader Odl2000 summarised most normal peoples’ feelings toward Facebook with his comment, suggesting that: "Facebook has become a necessary evil in my life. If I leave I miss out on invites, photos and announcements that now happen only there."
But he’s not happy about the situation, explaining: "I stay and I’m subjected to the gradual and complicit erosion of my privacy and the daily, eye-gougingly boring updates from people I wish you could unfriend, but can’t because they would take it as an insult akin to me calling their dad a donkey-f*****r."
Listen up, Odl2000. There are zones. If you bother working what all the menus and dropdowns do, you can put the boring people into a sort of purgatory feed where they don’t know you secretly hate them and their petty lives.
Xarquid joined in with the battle to appear to be the most bored of it all, outlining his lack of affection for the site with: "The newsfeed is the same old tedium: how many miles someone ran, someone having a go at a motorist who cut them up, moan, bleat, whine… the new fad of posting links to all these list sites and daft videos with the captions ‘brilliant’ or ‘you’ve gotta see this’ killed it off for me."
Young, dumb, and signed into Facebook Messenger
Putting more of a downer on the birthday celebrations is the emerging trend of the "neknomination," a staggeringly dumb new way the kids have found to get drunk, briefly internet famous and, in some extremely sad cases, dead.
On the Independent, beneath a quote from Facebook saying that it wouldn’t be banning neknominate pages even in the face of deaths linked to the bizarre boozing trend, there were the sorts of incredibly insensitive comments that show internet users in their worst light. A person shielded behind the anonymous user name of Cos Lettuce said the sad death of a young man is "Darwinism in action."
That sort of thing is why people ought to be made to post under their real names by the government or not be allowed anything more interactive than a kaleidoscope to play with.
Much more sensible a reply came from LJ, who got Facebook’s back with: "Teenagers don’t drink and do stupid stuff because Facebook tells them to, they do it (and will continue to do it) because they’re young, dumb and desperate for the approval/applause of their peers. Removing a page on Facebook would change nothing."
Hanging on the telephone
Beneath a list of things on the BT site, reader Helen Savage typed out a verbal dislike of the social site, saying: "Facebook is for lonely people with nothing real going on in their lives. Ultimately we will ALL HAVE TO go on Facebook because that is where everyone will be and if you are not on it you will be the lonely one."
She then used the oldest anti-Facebook argument in the world, that of having "real" friends she talks to on the telephone, digging herself deeper into a hole of confusion with: "I think it is for the socially inept as it stands and I do not use it because I have proper conversations with people either face to face or on the telephone if they are long distance."
But she was politely hushed via a reply from Geoff Woodward, who put "things" into "perspective" with his reply. Geoff said: "What a mean-spirited person you are, Helen Savage! I personally, am severely disabled & as such, virtually housebound! Facebook has proved to be a lifeline for me over the past 4 years. With my adapted vehicle, I have been able to go out & meet several Facebook friends in person. Whilst meeting them, I have met other people, who in turn also became Facebook friends."
Helen went quiet after that. Geoff got nine up-votes compared with Helen’s zero, so he was declared champion of that bit of the internet for a 24-hour period.
- More inflame – dare you go below the fold?