Rick Friedman | Corbis | Getty Images
Mark Zuckerberg (L) and Chris Hughes (R) of ‘Facebook’ photographed at Eliot House at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. on May 14, 2004.
On February 4th, Facebook celebrates 14 years of coming online. For me, I’ll celebrate 11 years on the network, and take stock of my love-hate relationship with the platform that’s now going through a sea-change.
I remember when Facebook’s attraction was that it had a better interface than Orkut (remember that?), and allowed users to easily chat with friends, “poke” them, and even have fun side conversations privately.
It’s come a long way since then.
Six months ago I took a break from all forms of social media, because it’d made me an entirely asocial, fake virtual-person who’d lost connection with her own self. It’s tough when you’ve been left feeling inadequate by the “perfect” lives, emotions, and pictures paraded on Facebook and its sister platform, Instagram.
Cutting off felt great. I breathed deeply again, identified emotions as I felt them, sat with my uncomfortable anxieties instead of distracting myself, wrote in actual books with actual pens versus virtual walls, heard people’s stories in their own voice (and not a garbled bunch of text in a box), noticed my communities’ ugly moments, and heard my neighbors’ pleas for a patient ear. I felt liberated.
And then I came back — just in time for the debate around Facebook’s role in the 2016 U.S. election, in publishing “fake” news, and possibly being a mental health risk.
Here’s why I’m giving the platform another chance.
A lot of it is due to Adam Mosseri’s — Facebook News Feed Head — thoughtful responses in a recent interview with Wired. It’s the first time a Facebook product head has spoken about changes being undertaken since Mark Zuckerberg emphasized Facebook’s move back to its roots — “connecting people” — during its third-quarter earnings call.
Since then, we’ve had a flurry of posts from Facebook explaining how the company will de-prioritize news in favor of content more relevant to a person’s social circle — that might include news shared by my friend who leads a biotech company that does cool and awesome things.