«But do you remember the one from fifth B? I don’t believe it, look how he’s become now?”. We were naive 20 years ago. We came from the archaic world of T9 messages and the first chats, those in which you ask “Where are you from?” it was already a gamble and no laughing matter. And suddenly Facebook allowed us to look through the keyhole: what fun it was to dig out our high school friends, discover mutual friends with the colleague who had just arrived, zoom in on the photo of the wife of our boyfriend at the time.
It was a shared bulletin board, a showcase. «It’s like going into a bar and starting to talk to friends and friends of friends» we said to explain what this Faccialibro was to those (reticent or far-sighted?) who wouldn’t let us finish the sentence and began: «No, no, I don’t write my name in there.”
In the euphoria of the moment we told each other. Or rather, we told our life as we wanted it to appear. And there was a period of Eden, in which it seemed that we all set the breakfast table like in the Mulino Bianco family, ate only sushi and went on stratospheric holidays with super cool people even if maybe we were in Viserbella Marittima with our aunt’s friends. The children? Only on changing tables with accessories in the perfect palette, from white to powder pink. The selfie with the friend? Alone with the mojito in hand and the mouth like a chicken’s ass: «The evenings, the beautiful ones» in the post.
When did we lose control? When we passed by «Christmas Alberto done!» posted on November 10th to the most excessive ostentation? And above all, why have we agreed to trivialize everything like this?
Worse than Chomsky’s boiled frogs, we didn’t realize that day after day we were losing a piece of ourselves (thinking we were gaining it). Looking back at the profiles, each of us has a 20-year history on the bulletin board, we have shared changes in jobs, homes, husbands (even wardrobes), we have argued about masks, we have supported political battles, we have gossiped, we have loved and hated, you saw your profile hacked. And he didn’t back down even after the 2018 data theft scandal. Spy and you will be spied on was the implicit agreement. Little by little we agreed to destroy our privacy. And we acted as guinea pigs for the creation of more brazen and dangerous social networks. “You have blood on your hands,” said a senator in the US Congress, addressing the CEOs of Meta, they don’t know how to manage.
Now that the new social networks are more advanced, more fake, more empty, Facebook has remained in the hands of nostalgic brontosauruses, those who were between 20 and 30 years old when they first signed up. It has also conquered categories that you would never have said at the beginning: grandparents, priests, retired professors. They do without their own challenges. And also magic filters correct everything. They still post photos of dogs and “flyers”. They go a little slower than the others. But the boomers work, indeed, and continue to make Marc Zuckerberg’s fortune: Meta’s advertising business continues to run at full speed and the Facebook group pays its first dividend. Revenue increased one quarter year over year to $40.1 billion in the latest quarter. Final profit rose from $4.6 billion a year ago to $14 billion. Do you understand the power of the late people on the web?
“Our community and our business continue to grow,” said Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Meta. But let’s be careful: the era of 150-character posts, likes and “friend ask” is in its decline anyway. Meta, says its founder, “has made a lot of progress in artificial intelligence and the metaverse” and continues to invest in the development of virtual worlds.
3D social media will sweep away the infinite message boards to scroll up. And perhaps soon it will really be «like meeting in a bar. But “the one from fifth B” will be an avatar.