I have a document that contains every Facebook status I’ve ever typed.
It started out as a way to chronicle my life, the small things that I won’t remember in twenty-five years. Then I realized that it had the added benefit of self-censorship—I stopped writing a ton of frivolous posts that no one really cared about. Mostly though, it’s just a fun way to look back and remember.
I can see major events: my first visit to Taylor is announced with great excitement (most of my early statuses are marked with exclamation points, though never more than one per sentence). I can watch change: a freshman year lament that I know no Taylor people who play Settlers of Catan to an announcement of a board game party that thirty of my friends attended. And I can laugh at dumb quotes, observations about life, and heated opinions that time and distance have cooled down a little bit.
At first, one of the reasons I didn’t want to use Facebook was that I thought it would make it too easy for near-strangers to get to know me. I would be an open book. That’s partially true, and a valid concern. But not entirely.
You could scroll down my “Timeline” (still skeptical of the format change, by the way) and read every single word I’ve ever written, every fragment of what I did and thought and reacted to in the world around me. And you wouldn’t really know me, because there are several things I don’t put in Facebook statuses. Here are a few.
Emotional updates: Facebook is not a virtual mood ring. The people who care need to be told how I’m doing in person, rather than reading a vague statement on the Internet for hundreds of non-caring people to see too.
Controversial statements: Beware, those who are my friends on Facebook—I keep a file of ridiculous and poorly argued Facebook arguments I find, both for my own amusement and so that if I become a professor someday, my students can rewrite them as an exercise in how to write persuasively. I’ve never seen an intelligent, level-headed argument on Facebook. It’s like trying to have a philosophical conversation in a gladiator arena. The atmosphere just isn’t right.
Beliefs and motivations: You’ll probably learn way more about what I love and hate and why I do what I do by coming here than just glancing through my Facebook posts. Not because I’m ashamed to talk about topics like faith in a public place, but because cramming deep topics into a shallow medium feels like doing a swan dive into a kiddie pool.
So my document of Facebook statuses is hardly an autobiography. That said, I enjoyed reading over them again. Here are a few, just for fun.