Way back before we had social media we connected with our friends over a number of ways. We used to write letters, pick up the phone or even send a text message. Announcements of marriage or birth were done with a list and sitting beside the telephone; calling each number on the list until we were done.
Now with the advent of social media some 20 years ago, the landscape has changed. Our interactions with friends has primarily moved to posting pictures on our Walls, tagging our friends on posts which remind us of them, chatting with each other over a number of internet messaging services or making a call over those same services. We’ve changed, the way we’ve communicated has changed and it’s arguably linked to the rise of one of the biggest Social Media companies in the world: Facebook.
It’s all began some 15 years ago in a Harvard University dorm room. What started off as a way to keep Harvard students connected beyond their university days would then turn into a platform where the whole world would be connected and reconnected. In fact, in Malaysia and in the Asian region, Facebook is the top social media platform with over 85% and 75% of the internet accessible population using it respectively.
But before we were poking friends and turning them into vampires on Facebook, it was known as Thefacebook. Facebook comes from the term “face book”, a term commonly used in the United States to refer to a collection of pictures and information of University students. And it had humble beginnings as a place where you literally had your face on a webpage. But over the years, it grew and new features were added to make it one of the easiest ways to keep in touch as well as reconnect with friends across the globe.
Before the Social Media platform went completely open, those of us who were lucky enough were invited by our close friends to join the first wave of Facebook Users. Initially we only had a Wall with our information and a few applets with which we interacted with our friends – the most popular was the poke applet which allowed you to poke your friends continuously and remind them that you’re there. Facebook introduced their photos applet in 2005 and we all started tagging friends in pictures we meticulously scanned. Everything from baby pictures to that yearbook picture with brace was put on Facebook!
With the increase of statuses, pictures and posts from users, we began needing a better way to keep up with our friends. Facebook saw this and introduced the News Feed in 2006. Yes, the tool for stalking your friends only appeared in 2006. I’m pretty sure that many of us still use it to keep up with our friends. In fact, it’s pretty personalised now with the “Like” button which has now become a “reactions” button. We’re even able to keep in contact with our friends over Facebook Chat which has now become Messenger.
Perhaps the greatest feat that Facebook has managed to achieve is connecting friends and family who are spread across the globe. In fact, on a personal note, I was able to reconnect with a number of friends I made while my family was staying in China thanks to Facebook. The physical separation between us is no issue with the amazing ways that we are able to connect over Facebook. We’ve been able to video call, chat and even share milestones without much hassle thanks to how Facebook has evolved over the years
As a company, the social media giant has acquired Instagram and WhatsApp. Bringing together a trifecta of platforms which allows the company to reach an unprecedented number of people across the world. But, perhaps more importantly, the new additions to their portfolio allows the company to connect even more people across the globe. Rumour has it that the platforms maybe evolving again soon.
To celebrate it’s 15 years, Facebook is creating a video to celebrate their 15 years by highlighting some of the new, old and forever friends you have on your friends list with some pictures and a few words in between. You can view mine above. Better yet, view and customise your own “Together in Friendship” video on Facebook.
But we wanna know… how has Facebook affected your life in the past 15 years? Tell us in the comments below!