There are two changes that I think would ultimately destroy Facebook. There are two things that FB could do that would make it completely different, although I think it would be the better. However these two changes would change the culture of Facebook entirely. Those two simple changes would be to add an “archive” link to people’s status updates and to have an easy printing option for people’s status updates.
Why do I think that would change and ultimately destroy Facebook? Because I think people don’t write “Status Updates” for posterity purposes. We write them not for the future, but for the present.
It is interesting to look through your own FB updates. You might find a very different person then the person you believe yourself to be or the person you really are. You might find it funny, interesting, or even sad to look over your “updates” to see what consistently you write about and “like” You can almost bet on having about 75 different people tell you how much they love “X”-flavor of Starbucks coffee with “X” food on “X” day of the week. Great! Is that really what we are all about? Coffee and Pastries? (Sidenote: Can we all just agree that the world loves coffee no matter the flavor or season. It is beginning to get about as redundant as saying, “Just got to breathe the air today.”)
My point in all of this is to say that Facebook Status Updates are not the same as writing in a journal. There is something important about writing down your thoughts for posterity purposes. Take most of the Founding Fathers for example. Most of them knew that there was a great chance that people would want to know about their time in history, even as they were living it. Many of them wrote in their “private” journals knowing that one day they wouldn’t be private. That is why we still have them. The truly private letters they wrote were destroyed on purpose, many times being burned by family members or loved ones. So older generation knew something about the importance of writing their thoughts down for future generations.
We, I think, are beginning to lose that. I don’t want my great-grandchildren knowing me through status updates and twitter posts. You the future generations won’t care how many Twitter posts you wrote, but if you said anything of actual important. Even a blog, while it can be more personal, isn’t the same thing as a private journal. We are writing more than ever, but saying less of anything of true value.
That is why I think my two above mentioned changes to FB would destroy it. I think the thought that your “updates” were being archived so that they could easily be looked back upon and even printed out by people to keep, would change and even slow the pace at which people updated their status. They would be more cautious with that reminder that someone down the line might be reading this. They would think twice about what it is they are going to say. They would think about whether or not the thing I think is funny to post at 18 will be funny for my kids to read when I am 30.
This is not a “bash Facebook” post. I like Facebook. I just need to be reminded time to time that if I am going to spend so much time writing and communicating to people, it should be something that has lasting value and something my kids will want to look back on. I need reminded that my “Status” isn’t always something that is interesting, funny, or YouTube worthy. Some times my “Status” needs a time of real reflection to understand and sometimes in doesn’t fit nicely on my profile wall.