My friend called me “old fashioned” when she found me scrolling through Facebook on my phone as she sat there editing her golden-hour selfie on Facetune.
In those 30 minutes spent on Facebook, I found out that one of my high school classmates was engaged, a classmate from middle school was now a father and an army sergeant and that a mother in Colorado was arrested after reportedly locking her son out of her home.
My friend, on the other hand, had just about finished perfecting her selfie and was now contemplating whether she should give it a comedic caption or keep it simple with an emoji.
Admittedly, I am also guilty of this at times. I, too, find myself criticizing every photo I take in an attempt to make it “Insta-perfect” — or at least adequately edited and appropriately captioned. However, when it comes down to it, I would much rather scroll through Facebook or pin recipes on Pinterest. Call me old fashioned, but I find myself missing the olden days of social media when we weren’t so focused on aesthetics and unattainable ideals. It was a time that produced real and intimate content.
Scrolling through my Instagram profile — including the archive section, where my most embarrassing posts continue to haunt me — I noticed apparent shifts in the aesthetics of my profile. Looking back, I remember just snapping a photo and uploading it to my Instagram profile right away, writing whatever caption came to mind at that moment and not editing anything. My oldest posts include a photo with my parents at my middle school graduation and a photo documenting the moment I found out I got into my first-choice high school. However, these innocent and intimate photos changed as I got older.
Who remembers the infamous white-border Instagram trend? This was the trend that started the obsession with curating an “aesthetic” profile. I remember furiously downloading the Squaready app that my friends told me about and learning about the different filters that would lighten your photo to match the “white aesthetic.”
Soon enough, other editing conventions replaced white borders. Facetune launched alongside a torrent of other airbrushing apps. Now I find myself scrolling through overly edited photos of popular Instagram models and influencers, many of whom look the same because they all see Dr. Nassif in Beverly Hills or schedule monthly visits with aesthetician and lip-filler connoisseur Joanna “the Nurse” Yoo.
After scrolling through repetitive, overly curated content on platforms like Instagram, I find myself seeking refuge in Facebook’s feel-good content. I can’t even tell you how many times I have teared up watching videos of soldiers coming home to surprise their families or how many Tasty cooking videos I have saved on my profile.
Facebook is the mother of social media platforms — a long-lost gem among social media platforms in an age centered around unrealistic expectations and overly curated content.
While Facebook remains the most popular social media platform with over 2.45 billion active monthly users, its user demographics have drastically shifted in recent years. Once named the “spring chicken of the internet,” Facebook has become the preferred platform of our parents and grandparents.
In 2018, Facebook changed its home feed algorithm to lessen content from businesses and give priority to posts coming from family and friends. As such, photos posted on Facebook are generally more “authentic” than those posted on platforms such as Instagram. While in 2018 Facebook changed its algorithm to prioritize consumers, Instagram wanted its feed to “feel more fresh” and changed its algorithm to boost newer posts to the top of users’ feeds. To me, it’s very clear that on Facebook users are more concerned about sharing their genuine lives with their friends and families than impressing the masses.
If you don’t believe me, just open up your Facebook and Instagram feeds and compare the two. I guarantee that countless beautiful, nearly naked Instagram models populate your Explore page, promoting various brands that you’ve probably never heard of. Looking at your Facebook home page, you might see your cousin who lives out of state post photos from her baby shower, or you may see a status update that one of your friends got the job they’ve been hoping for. This here is the difference between their respective contents: commercial versus real.
Instagram is mainly used for flaunting aesthetic photos, Twitter is primarily for snarky commentary and TikTok is for short quirky videos. Facebook combines them all: It can be used for keeping up with old friends, reading the news and professional networking. It is also a direct feeder for other social media platforms. For example, you can find a lot of content from Twitter on your Instagram feed. You can also connect your Instagram posts to your Facebook profile, share your Pins and repost your Tweets on your Facebook Timeline.
Facebook is the mother of social media platforms — a long-lost gem among social media platforms in an age centered around unrealistic expectations and overly curated content. When you find yourself feeling insecure after scrolling through your Instagram feed or spending way too much time stalking Chrissy Teigen’s Twitter profile, check in with your long-lost friend, Facebook. Maybe catch up on some news, or see what your forgotten middle school and high school classmates are up to. Who knows, you might be surprised at what you find.
Tali Braun believes that Facebook is the most forgotten yet most wholesome social media platform of our generation.