Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Facebook: A Documentation Of Our Lives

Posted by Amanda Walsh

I came across this heartbreaking article today in the Washington Post, A Facebook story: A mother's joy and a family's sorrow, that got me thinking about Facebook and how it plays an integral part in many people's lives as a documented way to preserve memories.

Shana Greatman Swers, a 35-year old married consultant from the Washington DC area was accustomed to posting updates on her Facebook from her iPhone. The Washington Post article gathered some background information along with her Facebook status updates to give readers a personal peek into her life. She announced the happy news about her pregnancy through to updates about the birth of her son all on the social media platform.  After her son' birth, updates still playing out on Facebook, medical complications forced Swers back into the hospital several times and finally, an announcement of her sudden and tragic death last month appeared as a status update.

As sad as this story is, it got me thinking about Facebook and how it really is an internet-based documentary of our lives. Depending on how engaged you are with the platform, Facebook provides a 'play-by-play' of many of aspects of our daily routine including pictures or status updates about special memories or tragic moments. Many families have been known to post pictures of their children or anecdotes of the darnedest things they say to share with friends and family near and far. We are living in a time now where, as these kids grow, Facebook has become a virtual 'baby book' so to speak or a memory book for those to remember loved ones that have passed away.

Facebook documents the important, the mundane, the big days and the not-so-big days of our lives. For many in the 18-24 set or even older (if someone decides to use a scanner), the hazy moments from our college days that we wish we could erase, remember or re-do can often still be dug up in the Facebook archives. Working at Furia Rubel Communications, a PR and marketing firm specializing in legal communications, we think about the implications of social media in the legal sphere. Facebook is non-discriminating in its collection of snippets of our lives- meaning the good, the bad, or the unethical, it's all out there. For lawyers collecting evidence it can be a valuable tool.  For attorneys fresh out of law school embarking on the job search, it can become their Achilles heel.

For better or worse, Facebook has become a virtual scrapbook of our lives- documenting the happy, the sad and all the in-between. It allows us to keep in touch with friends, honor someone's memory, showcase pictures, remember a special moment or an entire era of our lives.


Joe Hackman said...

I think our blogs, youtube videos, etc, are all part of our legacy. I often imagine what my son (now 5) or his kids would think of my writings, videos, podcasts, etc. I've read a lot of stories like this one where someone's Facebook profiles become a memorial. It's really fantastic I think. Something we can refer back to when we are thinking of them. I wish Facebook was around years ago before some of my loved ones passed away. It would be great to be able to read and see the photos in a story line.

Barry Peters said...

great post! especially amazing when you think of how the things you mentioned were (not) documented and shared before the platform existed. no wonder Zuckerberg got man of the year!