For the Facebook-less among us, there’s a feature that rolled out a few months ago — On This Day. It’s a Facebook-centric version of Timehop, which for the Timehop-less among us means this: every single day you have the option of logging onto Facebook and seeing what comments, photos, posts, etc., you put up on that same day, a year ago, two years ago, and so on, until you hit the end of your Facebook lifespan.
I was one of the first people at Wilfrid Laurier University to have Facebook — I remember when it was brand-new, having every single person in my university who also had Facebook on my friends list, and trying to convince everyone I knew on campus to sign up. We were all using MSN pages at the time, to broadcast our drunken shenanigans to the internet at large.
When I look at these “2 years ago, 5 years ago” blurbs, on Facebook or on Timehop, or when I feel a bit nostalgic and log onto my old Livejournal that is almost TWO DECADES OLD (gulp), I think a few things.
First off, I am so glad that the internet and social media in its current form did not exist when I was an adolescent. I know the internet is forever but I think I have successfully wiped a lot of my youthful indiscretions from the easy-to-access internet, at least. When Facebook was new to WLU (which means it was probably old hat to lots of other networks) it was only open to people with educational institute email addresses. There were no parents or great-aunts or bosses on Facebook, then, so it felt a-okay to share party pictures.
This one seems safe.
MSN spaces (if that’s what it was actually called)? We put EVERYTHING there because there was no such thing as worrying about online privacy. Same with LiveJournal, and hi5, and Myspace, and so on. I have no idea what the equivalent is now — Snapchat? — but I’m kind of glad I’m out of the loop. And I’m glad I have no intentions to try and be the prime minister or anything like that.
If I had spent the entirety of my adolescence online, in a way that could be pulled up on a “what you did this time six years ago” app, I would probably spend every morning cringing myself to death. As it is, I am glad that Facebook put a delete post functionality into the app, so that I can excise embarrassing things from public review.
So — that’s lesson #1. But there are lots of other things I think about when I read these miniature blasts from the past, especially this time of year, when I start to get wistful thinking about carefree high school summers, which so did not feel carefree at the time.
A lot of the people who crop up in these posts are people I don’t speak with anymore. Some of them are actually no longer people I would consider friends, whether we had an intentional breaking-off, or just faded away. My family moved away, suddenly and permanently, after I went to university for my first year and pretty much lost touch with most of my high school friends, save for those with whom I was/am extra-close. So seeing these blurbs makes me feel a bit sad, but also happy, because these are people whose lives I occasionally and idly catch up on, who are doing well, and I still cherish a lot of those ridiculous teenage memories.
And, when I project myself back to high school, about to graduate, ten years ago almost to the day, I wonder, would high school me be happy with who I am now? My main goal, especially in that last year, was to get out and never be one of the people who came back, so I guess I was successful in that regard. I am not a world traveller, or someone who is making a huge impact on many lives globally, and that’s a bit of a departure from the dreams and wishes I had even five years ago, but I am making an impact on some of the most important people in MY world.
This is all a very convoluted way of saying, if I could go back, ten years into the past, I would tell myself this:
- Everything you think is heart-wrenching and painful and awful will not be like that forever. Ten years from now you might look back on it and laugh to yourself, or feel a tiny bit of wrenching, but none of it will ruin your world.
- Enjoy all of that freedom and potential while you have it.
- Take pictures — don’t post them on the internet! And back them up somewhere, because five years from now you’ll screw up your computer and lose them all.
Of course, I know I wouldn’t listen to me, and would just roll my eyes at my future self for being sanctimonious. Now, get offa my lawn.