Through the Lens of Facebook

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So, tell me truthfully, did you click the Facebook movie link?  If so, you have participated in Facebook’s presentation of its “Big Data”.

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I wasn’t going to click, but I had watched several movies and curiosity nagged at me. In a moment of weakness, when I was avoiding writing my blog, I clicked.  The first colorful, vibrant moments of my life floated by and then there I was, the star of this Facebook moving, in all my glory.  Well really, only some of my glory was revealed, since most of my head was missing.

The story of my Facebook years unfolded in a minute and two seconds. It is a lovely movie; the outward portrayal of who I am: family and friends, silliness and sunsets, soccer and dogs.  And, never last, never least, except ironically in this sentence and paragraph, God.

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Hallie in a Roger Williams University (RWU) sweater

The movie’s outward joie de vi·vre, hinted at the deeper events that shaped my past 10 years.  In the lavender and pink sunset over the lake, I spoke about missing my father.  My mother’s modeling photo reminded me of her passing in 2010.  There’s a photo of me, hands raised in evangelical praise, appearing to support a televised soccer game, and then the dogs, dogs, dogs. My brother’s dog Zoey made the cut, as did our dogs, Rex and Hallie (isn’t she cute?).  The words and images ‘liked’ by my Facebook friends are encapsulated in a movie representing my last five years.

But there is so much missing from my montage: the moments from my friends pages that I liked, the memorable moments from my pages that were statistically insignificant, and the moments that I never shared because they cut too deep.

Missing from my families and friends pages were the weddings, births, blogs written, paintings painted, dances danced, and players acting.  Missing were the homes bought and sold, the graduations, the family reunions.  I would add photos of those whose deaths came at the end of a long life; and photos of  those whose unexpected departure left us tortured in our losses.  There would be hurricanes, floods and ice storms; pastries, campfires and hugs.

Randy&Gary

In the center of it all would be this photo of my husband and son on Father’s Day several years ago.  This moment, too statistically insignificant to have made the movie, was a pivotal moment in time, forever locked in my memory. The story of my past five years is incomplete and inaccurate without this photo in the mix.

Then, I would toss in the many moments that were not shared. Moments so incredibly wonderful, but because they might hurt someone else they were withheld. Or they were so painful that to post them would be awkward and self-serving.

If you excuse me for a moment, I’m going to go a bit ‘techy’.  This is the problem with big data analytics.  It can only ‘know’ what it sees. It cannot guess at what is not shared or at the data that is not captured.  And it is only as good as the interpreter of the data, which in this case is Facebook.

I wonder what would have happened if the Facebook developers who schemed up this idea for individualized movies, had thought to pull the post that had the most empty time on one side or the other.  The post that was shared after a long lull of nothingness, or the post that was shared just prior to a long absence.  I believe that these quiet times are our deeper moments: the moments of our greatest joys, despairs, successes and failures. Would we want to see what we posted just prior or just after these lulls?

Thumbs up For the Facebook Movie.

Thumbs up
For the Facebook Movie.

All that said, I liked my Facebook movie. It is a story shared that nibbles around the corners of larger memories.  I even like my truncated profile picture.  It symbolizes the inability to capture years of a person’s life in a single minute.

When I click on your Facebook movie, I will consider that behind every beautiful moment, there might be hidden scars, behind the laughter and hugs there could be pain, and behind the sunsets there was loss and love.

So what did you think of your Facebook movie?  

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About Barbara Rath

Enjoy reading, writing, hiking, hangin' with family, friends and my dogs, watching soccer (Go Breakers), baseball, football. Favorite foods are coffee, chocolate, and artichokes. Always thinking of new stuff to do and then not doing it.
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