If you've been reading the series (see Part I and Part II), or even if you haven't, you can imagine what this post might say. But even still, you're going to read it because there's a part of you that knows when it comes to Facebook these things have made Facebook a crazy beast of a monster.
One of the premises for this series is that from the time I first joined Facebook eight years ago not only has Facebook changed a lot, but so have I. These unrelated changes have a pretty significant interplay.
There was a pretty significant period of time when I didn't really log into Facebook. It didn't really have much to offer me. Those first years of rapid change post college had passed and I generally knew where people were, who they were dating or married to, and wasn't interested in seeing if they had made updates to there "about me" page on Facebook (you remember the page that showed your favorite TV shows, movies, and music).
My wife's interest hadn't waned in those years. She was interested in seeing people's vacation pictures and other thing things they uploaded (kid pictures, cat pictures, whatever...well...maybe not the cat pictures).
Yet, things started getting hot on facebook - suddenly more and more people were joining and they were posting more than ever. They were posting there day to day events, their thoughts, their feelings, and pictures of their food.
The Like Button
On February 9, 2009 Facebook unveiled the "like" button and I definitely feel like this changed the Facebook experience. Admittedly, I didn't really get it at first. I'm sure I criticized it. I know I teased my wife about logging on to "like" things.
To me the term seemed week and suddenly now when you were flipping through your friends trip to see Aunt Tilda you "liked" the one they posted of the sunset, and your friend playing with their nieces.
It wasn't just iPhones, obviously it was a lot of different types of brands, but the Smart Phone Explosion played a huge roll in the Facebook experience. Now you had a high quality camera that could quickly add pictures and thoughts in a moment. It wasn't downloading pictures into a Facebook album when you had the chance, it was instant. Now you saw the friends sunset with Aunt Tilda the moment it was taken.
You might not have a lot to say about the sunset, but you could "like it." And you did.
Babies Become Kids
Probably more pictures get taken of children than any other subject. My parents have a slide projector and while there is a variety of subjects, it's me and my sister as kids that fill most the cubes in the closet.
So it's reasonable that nothing changed with a more readily available camera in your purse or pocket that allowed you to take pictures of any thing you saw. I of course loved taking pictures of my babies, why would anything change when months turned to years.
Babies Become Kids + iPhones
And if you could take a picture in an instant of your favorite subject, why not take it one step further and post it on Facebook
Babies Become Kids + iPhones + Likes
And if I upload a picture (my food, my sunset, my kid) and can instantly get feedback (like a dozen or so likes) it can be a decent interactive and ego stoking activity. I have to think there must be some endorphins shooting through your system when other people affirm something about your kid. Whether it's there looks, there messes, their accomplishments, or your parenting.
Don't get me wrong, I like seeing pictures of people's lives, but as many kids grew into the toddler stage there was more to post than ever. Every day is an adventure with young kids. Some days are good, some days are bad, and some days are simply wonderful. And you have an instant place to post these things and receive feedback.
And it's more than likes you also get encouragement. If you're having a rough experience the comments come in ("Don't worry, you're doing great."). If you do something creative say bake a cake, sew pajamas, or redecorate their room, you get more encouragement (something like "You're such a great mom," or "How do you do it."). And if it's just a picture of the kid, or go on a trip, or take a picture of a kid with a grandparent and you get encouraging feedback.
People post more than just there kids, but admittedly, with three of my own I realize that my most common Facebook subject (and the one that by virtue of comments and likes) get the most interest are one's involving my kids.
And to what end? I do want to share my life with many people who I connect with on Facebook. And I'm not slumming for likes and comments. But I like the encouragement, or even the feeling that other people care about my life and kids.
There's no general criticism here. This is what it is. I am also guilty. Yet, I've wondered where it stops? Do you stop posting your kids every move when they some day get their own Facebook accounts. I am friends with some teenagers and their parents on Facebook and I don't see these parents regularly posting pictures of their grades on their high school homework, results of their doctors appointments, or pictures of them on their first day of school. And sure, some do, but I don't anticipate I will document my teens every move online.
So when does it stop. When do I stop posting pictures of my kids. Sharing funny things they say and do? In the same way my life will change in the years to come (anticipated and unanticipated), the Facebook experience undoubtably will as well (as shown by it's track record).
It's incredible to me how much these three forces (likes, iPhones, and Babies Becoming Kids) have dramatically changed the Facebook experience. And years back when I would go weeks without checking Facebook, I find it hard to go many days without logging in. If I'm not logging in to see what you and your kids are up to, I'm posting a tidbit of me and my kids.
Thinking about this, I've been compelled recently to cut this back a bit - wondering to what ends or purposes I am posting these things.