Before I start talking about the widely used Facebook, let me talk about where my social media journey all began.
This was on Myspace in 2006. At the time, I was 11? And now that I say that age out loud (or type it and say it in my head) I understand why everyone around me at the time was terrified of presenting themselves on the internet. This being said, my Myspace didn’t have any photographs of me or talk about my personal information. But there was rumours going around my middle school (and hey, maybe they weren’t rumours at all) that our deputy principle was finding students who were using Myspace underage and reporting to our parents and the police. This terrified me, and at a sleepover one time, I was losing sleep over this and forced my friend to wake up and help me delete my Myspace account.
Now, my usage may have taken a little lull, but by the time I moved to Australia, I reactivated my page and I was back on the web. I spent hours beyond hours designing my profile to look just so, to have a constant and cohesive theme, to express the perfect “aesthetic” that represented me and my interests at that time. It was in about 2008 that most of my American friends had made the shift to Facebook, and in order for me to keep in contact with them, I created an account as well.
It took me a while to really grasp what this platform was about. Why couldn’t I design my page to look pretty? Where could I tell people about my favourite films and books? And why, oh why, couldn’t I have a song to play while people browsed my page? It then became clear to me, that Facebook was more about a means of communication– and this aspect of it functioned far better than Myspace.
“Facebook’s functionality invites users to articulate the more mundane, inconsequential goings-on of everyday life, whereas MySpace was more highly curated.” (Robards 2012, p. 391)
This was true– I was now able to tell all of my Facebook friends that I was about to go to the beach. Because I thought they cared.
“Debra (21), who used Facebook more than MySpace but still maintained her MySpace profile, also commented on the more precise, ‘to the point’ nature of MySpace. Comparing MySpace with Facebook, she explains that ‘MySpace is a lot more . . . “this is who I am”.” (Robards 2012, p. 391).
While this new site allowed me to share every day details with my audience, as opposed to the more physical and visual nature of Myspace, this has shifted over the years.
I have been an active Facebook user for about 8? years now, and I very rarely post a status of my every day activity. Facebook is kind and has a new feature that shares our memories with us– things that happened on that day, however many years ago. I am often reminded of the cringey and unnecessary statuses I posted between the ages of 13-17.
While I have changed on this space over the years, so has my relationship with my audience. My Facebook world used to have no limitations (maybe because I was naive and unaware of them at the time) but now, I am very careful of the language I use and even the posts I like/comment on. I have my father on Facebook, my mother’s best friends, my aunts and uncles, my boyfriend’s mother, father and grandmother.
I can’t talk about my delinquent drinking behaviour or use foul language in inappropriate contexts for a laugh. But more importantly, I don’t want to anymore.
Facebook is a space for me to receive news (it never used to be) and for me to keep in contact with these older (and younger) people in my life. I have to represent the poised and well-behaved Annika that I am (sometimes). Things slip up every now and then, but you know, I like to control my content as much as possible– for the sake of my relationships.
Robards, B. (2012). Leaving Myspace, joining Facebook: ‘Growing up’ on social network sites. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 26(3), pp.385-398.