Facebook way back when…

After having a Facebook account since it’s birth back in 2004, I’ve experienced first hand it’s evolution and integration into our everyday lives. And it’s kind of funny to think back to when people were just starting to hear about what it was.

I was visiting a friend in Chicago over break who’s friend from the University of Iowa introduced us to the site. She showed us how you could look people up at your school, see who their friends were, what classes they were taking, etc. Fascinating! It was like a more exclusive, mature, and less spammy looking version of MySpace.

It was an exciting day when Marquette was included in the network. (Because back then, your school had to get approved by the Facebook team which left many schools out for a while.)

The layout of the site has had too many makeovers to keep count. Remember the days when you had the ability to edit a friend’s entire wall? It was more like a whiteboard. If you wanted, you could erase and put anything you wanted in that space. And how annoying would it be when someone actually did that? You would get e-mails saying something like, “Someone has updated your wall.”

Or how about when status updates were introduced? I remember resisting them because I thought the idea of letting people know what I was doing was “too stalkerish.” That didn’t last long.

It wasn’t until the photo sharing tool, in my opinion, totally changed the game of Facebook. I was excited I could get rid of all my Web Shots albums and be able to upload my pictures into one place. And when “tagging” photos was integrated, I think that was when Facebook really grew on the social end. It was exciting to share photos and experiences with friends back home in Minnesota.

For all of you who have been on Facebook as long as I have, how weird was it to start seeing your professors with accounts? I think that was the first time I started to realize that I whatever I posted could have a real influence – in a good or bad way. I couldn’t help but think, “Okay, is this something I’d want my professor to read?”

And talk about the social dilemmas that started to form. Suddenly there was proof online of what people did on the weekends. You could visually see who people hung out with and what they did on their own time. The effects were positive and negative for some. I remember hearing about friends breaking up or getting into fights with one another because of something posted on Facebook and thinking that was just ridiculous. How could you let some online procrastination tool get into the way of a relationship?

My how far Facebook has come. It has now evolved to a point where it’s weird for someone not to have a Facebook account. And now there’s chat, business fan pages, applications, real time updates, and extreme privacy settings. You can basically make Facebook whatever you want it to be.

What are your memories of Facebook from way back when? Can you remember instances when it first started to impact your social or online activity?

14 thoughts on “Facebook way back when…

  1. It was explained to me as a yearbook.

    “But for like, college kids, and stuff…”

    Definite resistance after that initial description.

    I didn’t get the whole “Wall” thing. I got mad when people edited it. I was on Facebook for the same reason everyone else was at the time: checking out all the other freshman boys!

    Not that many people had digital cameras in college when Facebook first came out, so many profile picture was a choice of the few available online pictures.

    These are the stories we’ll share with our incredulous children. Precious.

  2. Have you read Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires? From my perspective, the original intent of Facebook has been left in the past.

    Zuckerberg started Facebook primarily because he wanted to meet girls. I remember when you used to be able to search or browse for people in your classes. The class schedule feature has long been eliminated. I remember when you used to be able to do advanced searches for “single” people in your dorm or any dorm on campus. Now the privacy features make these searches all but impossible.

    • I certainly remember the search by dorm option. When we found out where we would be living our sophomore year, we would search to see who else was in our building and on our floor. You wouldn’t think of seeing something like that these days. It made sense at the time since the network was more secluded. Not so much now that Facebook has had such global reach.

      Thanks for the comment!

      • Yeah, I preferred those days. They really were the days when you really could waste a whole night procrastinating on Facebook. Now, there are much better places on the internet to waste time.

  3. My first exposure to Facebook was in 2004 when I lived in Montana and accessed the internet from a shared dial-up modem computer in the employee dining room in a national park. I met a friend working there who was still in college and used it primarily, as far as I could tell, to join groups with ridiculous names.

    A few years later I was a journalist writing a follow-up to a story on MySpace. The original story was about 6 people who were MySpace friends who met for the first time in real life. Two years later I tried to track down those 6 people again on MySpace, with zero luck. For some reason I thought to look them up on Facebook, which I had recently joined, and found them immediately. I contacted them through Facebook and they graciously let me interview them. That was kind of telling.

    Today I couldn’t imagine writing a story without at least a little help from social media.

    Also, here’s a screenshot of thefacebook.com: http://socialmediaguy.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/picture-1.png

  4. I wish I did — all the stories got taken off the web when the weekly I was writing for shut down. We probably should have done fewer stories about MySpace, and maybe we’d still be around ;)

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  6. Great post! I wish I joined facebook way back when. :) I was late to the game, only been on there a year now… and I can’t believe how awesome of a tool it is for business, for my blog, for my personal life and relationships.

    I did freak a little when I saw my Priest on facebook – did NOT send him a friend request. :)

    • Even in the past year, Facebook has undergone many changes with their layout, applications, and overall reach. I’m sure if we got to take a look at your profile from when you first joined it would look a lot different.

      I love that you found your priest on Facebook! See, everyone really is on it these days :)

      Thanks for stopping by, Missy!

  7. Great post! I remember thinking “how invasive!” when I first signed up. Now viewing status updates and profiles has become a daily hobby. Quite odd how perceptions of social media sites have changed in recent years!

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