Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

February 6, 2014

GARY'S WORLD: A 'Look Back' at the social network

CROSSVILLE — Facebook celebrated its 10th anniversary this past Tuesday. In fact, it's celebrating all week long. The king of social networking websites first launched Feb. 4, 2004, at Harvard University, connecting students through a network at the school.

However, it was a couple of years before it gained popularity and really branched out and took off.

It was founded by Mark Zuckerberg and four classmates. Zuckerberg has said he never thought it would get as big as it has become.

To celebrate the anniversary, the geniuses at Facebook created a "Look Back" video for the hundreds of millions of Facebook members.

Each user's "Look Back" compilation video contains roughly 15 of their most-liked photos, status updates, and life events set to a reflective, inspirational-styled instrumental tune.

The videos are kind of cheesy, which I like.

The videos may seem simple to some, but to me they are another big indicator that for 1.2 billion people, Facebook has become THE way these people document their daily lives. It has also become the way they keep in touch with their friends and family members who live in other parts of the world.

With an automated tool, a team at Facebook spent several months creating the 62-second, personalized video highlights for its users. Each individual user has their own video.

It's an epic, large-scale project. The video notes the year you joined Facebook, shows a handful of your most-liked posts and a selection of your photos — set to instrumental music.

I have to admit that it's been fascinating to watch so many of these videos that people are sharing.

You see them sharing big events in their lives, as well as day-to-day events. Facebok literally has changed the world and the way people share events in their lives. Birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, weddings and births are shared on Facebook every day.

A lot of people are afraid to share their video. If you don't like your video, or don't want to share it, you don't have to. Nobody else can watch your video unless you share it on your timeline, or wall.

Facebook first posted the clips without much excitement. I got a notification that my "Look Back" video was ready and that's how I discovered it.

Being the nostalgic sap that I am, it kind of got to me, seeing all those moments, events and monumental things that have happened over the past several years all boiled down into a one-minute video.

It's been interesting looking back at some of my friend's videos. One of my friends commented that she thought it seemed like a memorial video that would be played at her funeral.

Her sense of humor is a bit twisted, but it reflects her individuality, which is one of the things Facebook does — shares an individual's thoughts and moments in life.

However, those moments are up to the user to share. Anything you put out there can be seen by anyone, depending on your privacy settings.

It was an interesting thought that she had. Then, I read a story out of Missouri on ABC News where a father said that his son's video would be extra special to him.

John Berlin's son passed away in January 2012. Berlin still wanted to see his son's video, but Facebook only created the montage for people with active accounts.

Berlin posted a passionate plea to Facebook and YouTube, asking them to create the video as a final memorial of his son. Less than a day later, Berlin posted a follow-up status, saying that Facebook agreed to his request.

"It worked. I was just contacted by FB by phone and they're going to make a vid just for us. They also said they're going to look at how they can better help families who have lost loved ones. Ty friends and to FB," Berlin posted.

I have to say kudos to Zuckerburg and the team at Facebook for coming up with the video montage idea and finding yet another way to connect everyone in the Facebook community.

I know not everyone likes Facebook, or even likes the Internet for that matter. But for me, it is a great way to keep in contact with my family who live out of state. I have also rediscovered some of my friends from so many years ago.

It's like anything else. It can be a useful tool, or something that rules your life. It's up to you to decide.

If you are on Facebook and would like to see your "Look Back" video, go to Facebook/lookback.

Also, if you're on Facebook, be sure to visit the Crossville Chronicle's Facebook page and like us. The Chronicle shares many of its stories from the website on Facebook, as well as other announcements.

• • •

Gary Nelson is a Crossville Chronicle staffwriter. His column is published each Friday. He may be reached at gnelson@crossville-chronicle.com.

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