I admit: I did it. During the last two weeks or so the Year in Reviews of my friends popped up on Facebook and I was slightly irritated: What was this? How did they do it and why? I didn’t read one of them. Yesterday Facebook lured me onto doing the same foolish thing. It showed me my personal Year in Review and the design was quite pretty so I thought: “Nah, that won’t hurt” and shared it. Afterwards I thought: “You little idiot.” Until today not even one of my friends liked this post. That’s my rightful punishment! 😉
Apart from being useless this little display of jolly moments is a big lie. Most people use a social network to show off with only the shiny highlights of their lives. What does Facebook know about my life? About the hard facts I fear it knows far more than I wish – but when it comes to emotions the algorithms fail completely.
My Year in Review contained like 3 photos I posted this year, and that’s it. Because I never post much on Facebook (for photos I got this blog, right?), there wasn’t much to choose from. And the bigger picture it creates isn’t even true. Even if I had posted about the hardship of my life every second day Facebook would have picked only the holiday pictures with my boyfriend.
Best prove is this: When sharing the Year in Review, Facebook puts this default text (my own translation from German, maybe the English text is different):
“It was a great year. Thank’s for being a part of it.”
Nothing but blues skies on Facebook. But first of all, most of my Facebook friends weren’t really a part of my “great year”, because I use Facebook to stay in touch with many people who live far away from Bremen, who I know from school-time or stays abroad so I didn’t see them in real life this year. I love them very much! But “taking part” in one’s life requires more than to be connected virtually. At least to me.
And secondly, was the year really “great”? Or was it rather like every normal year a mixture of ups and downs? And maybe the bad moments outweigh the good ones, so what? No-one would write something like: “Thank’s for not noticing that my year has been a complete write-off”. Social networks are for boasting. Or complaining, but from my experience the boasting takes the bigger part.
This mechanism of Facebook to choose the “highlights” of the year by itself can also be very cruel. A few days ago several German newspapers (e.g. the Süddeutsche Zeitung) wrote about the case of a man whose daughter died this year. Guess which photo Facebook chose for the Year in Review? This is the result when heartless algorithms are at work.
My year was quite okay. Not the best of all, I would say. I travelled a to Tenerife and Italy, I am blessed with wonderful friends and I would say it’s definitely a good thing about 2014 that I started blogging! 🙂 But I also experienced some setbacks searching for a job (because I am about to finish my studies next year) – how hard it is to gain ground in journalism! 😦 – and lost a loved person very recently.
So this short passage was a far more personal Year in Review than Facebook will ever get from me. I seriously hope you all had a great year. Let’s look forward to 2015 together! 😀