Before this year (I think, since all of my years on social media are finally starting to blur together as God intended), the only way to "share a memory" that had already been shared on Facebook was to essentially re-post it. Many parents weren't strangers to this concept, often "reminiscing" on Facebook around a child's birthday, either about the child's developments or about the birth itself (sometimes in the form of "re-live blogging"), which I've chronicled in various columns with much confusion. We all have that "Remember the time...?" gene in our DNA, but I'd like to think that most of us attempt to restrict ourselves when we feel the urge to lapse into previously told stories on the internet. After all, social media isn't even that old.
It's certainly old enough for peers of mine to have gotten married, had children, adopted or said goodbye to pets, written tributes to loved ones who have passed away, and so on. A lot can happen in several years' time. But the whole idea behind reminiscing is that it's only fun or meaningful when everyone has actually forgotten the details of a story. And yet, Facebook knows we're all a little more impatient than that. By rolling out its own "memories" feature alongside the exceedingly popular Timehop app, which markets itself as 'A time capsule of you' (ugh) and lets users easily share content that they've already shared, Facebook newsfeeds have become a place of both new updates and old. It's a very weird mix of content, and it's almost impossible to parse it properly by Hiding those memory app features if you want to, because they seem to never fully go away.
Of course, anyone who's sharing something from "exactly [X] years ago" is running the risk of being annoying. Even if it's just to reminisce about starting a job, or hiking Machu Picchu, or celebrating a wedding anniversary, it can be overkill. No offense, but I'm not on Facebook because I want to get a glimpse into my friends' former social or work calendars. Gimme the new shit, or don't give me anything at all. (This is basically the 2015 version of "Give me liberty, or give me death!") And I know I'm not alone on this, because these were some of the comments people expressed on the STFUP Facebook Page when I mentioned working on this column:
"Timehop...because the first time was not bad enough."
"Timehop: a year ago, my child was a year younger. Mind. Blown."
"I don't mind Timehop for rekindling good memories I may have let slip. But for parents it's a gateway to an Inception worthy baby photo hell for the rest of us."
"I should just give you my login and password info to look at the several dozen a friend posted, just in the last couple weeks. Too much stupid to go through them."
"I cannot even count how many times I have "blocked" that app in the last week. I use quotation marks because it ain't blocking shit, despite telling me it will work."
And possibly my personal favorite, "You could do a second [column] for all the people who use #tbt (throw back Thursday) to post a pic of their kids from the previous THURSDAY !!! Not actually doing anything - just taken - ON A THURSDAY *facepalm".
In other words, people don't check Facebook to see a long-ass scroll of their friends' recent memories, which shouldn't come as a surprise. It should be obvious to us all that no one could possibly care enough about our "life content" the first time around to want to see it twice, and yet for many Facebook users -- especially parents -- that fact is irrelevant, because narcissism wins every time. It's like a little voice whispers into parents' ears, "Just look at how much Nevaeh has changed since this photo was taken. Remember when she ate that strawberry ice cream and loved it? That was so cute. Okay, okay...RE-SHARE!!!" without any additional thoughts factored in. When a child is the center of her parents' universe, they're not really considering the pros and cons of re-posting an adorable picture or crazy story or eventful trip to the zoo. They're on autopilot, and all it takes is the click of a button to "share" in a beloved memory with 700 close and personal friends. Sometimes the memories really ARE adorable -- until, of course, the parent just doesn't know when to stop.
I can assure you that Marjorie's daughter is very cute, and clearly many of her friends love seeing these kinds of developmental changes via Timehop. What's annoying is if you've got 10 or 20 Marjories in your newsfeed, which quickly turns into a whole lot of reminiscing when you could be talking about, oh, anything else. I'm not saying I would rather see a picture of someone's lunch than "old" pictures of someone's toddler, but I will say those subjects weigh about the same to me in terms of overall value. Maybe Timehop is just a reminder that, for most people, social media isn't about choosing what to post based on what other people might want to see. It's a re-confirmation that sites like Facebook are designed for people to overindulge in themselves. Their interests, their kids, their photos, their vacations. Take it or leave it. But don't think that just because you've seen something once, you'll never see it again. Those days are long gone, friends. Let's check out some examples of the ways Timehop or Facebook Memory apps bring joy to some people, and irritation to the rest of us.
1. Boyz II Men
Can you believe that only five years ago young Dylan found his man junk, and today he's off to kindergarten? Time flies SO FAST. One minute Dylan is tugging his tiny penis, and the next he's wearing a backpack for school! How crazy is that? I'm glad we got to relive this particular memory so we can all track in our minds the exact day Dylan went from "penis-playing baby" to "hopeful academic." Thanks, Kristina! And thanks for posting the penis anecdote the first time around, too. The number one thing I hope to consider ever-so-briefly when I'm on Facebook is the obsession my friends' husband has with his penis.
2. Timehop Galleries
The person who sent this in says, "A few of my friends are obsessed with sharing their Timehop photos of their kids and I've actually considered blocking some of them because their Timehops are so annoying. In the attached photo you can see a boring Timehop album, full of boring text posts and boring photos. It was updated 2 months ago because this person switched to taking screenshots and uploading them, so now they're in a mobile uploads album."
Oh, dear. When your Timehop photos accumulate to the point of filling a whole album, you know you've got a problem. Timehop addicts, please seek help. There's probably a hotline you can call or a group you can join. If you're ever able to step out of your Timehop hole (now forever known as a T-hole), there's a present-tense world still here to embrace you.
3. Re-Inspiring Nightmares
Aaaahhhhh! Er, is this the prettiest fetus you've ever seen or what?! I'm so happy Kerin shared this photo so everyone could remember how they felt the first time it was shared! That feeling of, um, overwhelming amazement because of all that beauty! Just look at those still-forming cheekbones! If she was in the Pre-Natal Pageant, she would absolutely take home first prize after being delivered from the womb. Good memory, Kerin!
4. Free Chili Dog Day Memories
This submission involves truly sharing a concrete "memory." An event transpired, and it was absolutely, 100% worth documenting the first time around.
#sorrynotsorry, Cassie's into photographing barf on the sidewalk as a form of Facebook entertainment. #sorrynotsorry, Cassie thinks Before and After photos are freaking funny. #sorrynotsorry, Cassie and her friends downloaded the Timehop app so they could remember days like this one at Chillers (great name for a restaurant, btw) -- and remind their other friends, too!
It's pictures like this that prove that digital photography is the greatest invention of our time. Franny, you may have taken the World's Most Pointless Photo. Thanks for capturing the memories so you could re-capture and share them one year later. #yupithappened #blessed
5. Toenail Update
Documoms might be the worst types to have access to memory apps. They're already documenting so much of what most people DON'T want to see, but now it's like they're oversharing random pictures of body parts and rashes doubly as often. "Remember the time my baby got pink eye and puss came oozing out of her eye for a week straight? Here's a photo in case you forgot!!!" ::shudder::
While I understand that Jesika is glad that her son's toenail grew back -- and I'm thrilled for her son's foot, really I am -- there's no good reason to share this memory on Facebook unless it's Halloween. That is one scary, ugly toe. Keep that thing away from me. This isn't the stuff memories are made of. This is nightmare fuel. Anyone who thinks this is why Timehop was created is delusional. Parents, there may be some memories worth re-sharing about your kids, but it's a good idea to really think through which ones you do. Otherwise, some of your friends will be forced to Hide you, and interacting with them on Facebook will be a thing of the past.