This might not seem like a car blog topic. But it is, you'll see.
Like a lot of people, I'm getting rid of my Facebook account. I'm finally deleting all my content for all the usual reasons: Its unsafe, Facebook is unreliable and untrustworthy, and they've proven they don't care about their users even the smallest amount. Obviously, for the sake of this podcast, I can't fully delete my personal account, but I am going through and deleting every post, like, and comment I can, and then hiding the rest. This also means deleting all my pictures and videos, and wouldn't you know it - even though we only started this podcast last year, and even though I never really considered cars an interest of mine until maybe the last 5 years, I had a LOT of stuff about cars on my Facebook, and I want to share it here so it doesn't get completely lost to time, and as a benefit, I get to do a Facebook rant. Win/win.
I joined Facebook in 2006, back in the days when you still had to have a college email address to do so. At the time, it was a real milestone in social media. I remember getting my information packet from UW Stevens Point, digging through to my email address, and immediately using it to set up a Facebook account. I was excited to do it! Facebook was basic back then. The status box was prefaced by the word "is", so every post read "Andrew Tully is:____" and you put your status in the blank. There were these odd boxes around the website with quotes from Top Gun as placeholders for other content. Wow do I sound old talking about this.
In the past 13 years, I posted a lot on Facebook. My best guess is somewhere in the area of 10,000 status updates, and several thousand more comments, likes, posts, and none of that includes posting albums or private messages or pokes. There's a reason my generation is so attached to Facebook, and its a simple one: Facebook gave us an unparalleled power to share our lives with the people we chose to share it with, a power never before seen in all of human history. How could we NOT fall in love with that? Looking back through the people I had added as a friend back in '06, it was more impactful than looking back through any picture book. I could see, right there, what Jillian from English 150 posted on my wall, I remember exactly the class she was talking about. No idea what happened to her, I must have unfriended her years ago, no idea why. On my Facebook timeline I could watch the decay and eventual death of friendships from high school, which was...interesting. Its one thing to have nostalgia for the old days, its quite another to have an exact record of how and when I grew apart from Justin. The very first direct contact I had with my wife was a Facebook message. Without Facebook, none of that would have been possible. Without Facebook, I might not be married. How about that?
Facebook even became a necessity for me at some point, an accidental cloud storage. I lost the hard drive that had all of my photos from before I got a smartphone, including my semester abroad. Fortunately, the best pictures from my trip to the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show did get uploaded, so I have those. Here's a gallery of what I saw there that year - and yes, all of these photos were taken with a point-and-shoot camera and manually uploaded to Facebook later. What a world it was!
This is a snapshot of automotive history! Volvos in the Ford booth, the Alfa 8C and Brera, the chrome R8, the Lamborghini Reventon, the BMW i8, electric concepts that are now in full production, the return of the Mercedes gullwing, I was there in person to see them all in their infancy. This show was nothing like I had ever seen before, and I've never seen its like since - BMW installed a full track inside their show booth, and they had their electric cars driving on it while the keynote on the i8 was happening. Audi brought their full RS lineup and a few race cars, along with the debut of the first-gen eTron. Mercedes brought Brabus and Maybach into their own display, and added a two-story, translucent, LED-lit centerpiece to top it all off. Again, without Facebook, all of these pictures would be completely lost.
Facebook also allowed me to chronicle the daily adventures of my life, at work, at school and otherwise. Cool cars, ugly cars, road trips, I tried to share everything I could. I guess, now that I can see all the data I ever uploaded compressed into one zip file, I've seen a lot of weird car stuff through the years. Here are some select highlights:
I was able to share these images and more with the people I liked and/or knew; the simple power of daily updates. All of these pictures mean something, just as every single picture, video, like, or status update on Facebook does. These are a text, they tell a story, they each have context and a place in a narrative. They carry emotional weight. They mean something to me, and I want them to mean something to other people, some of whom saw these moments alongside me. As an end user, all I ever wanted from Facebook was to be able to share the moments I deemed important with whomever I chose to share them with. But Facebook, solely in the pursuit of money, squandered any and all goodwill I could possibly have for them by giving corporations wanton access to my data, and your data, and everyone's data - even the stuff we chose to hide by using Facebook's own tools. That is nothing less than a full betrayal.
And I was a Facebook defender for a few years too! Let employers FIND my page, then we can talk about if I'm worried. I used Ad Blockers, because I'm not an idiot. I know how to spot fake news and sponsored content, if my English degree is good for anything, at least its good for that. With every leak that came out, I became more concerned, of course, but as a modern technology user, I'm willing to overlook some pretty outrageous abuses in order to keep using platforms that I like. But now, its been revealed that Facebook had deals with several other massive companies in order to share Facebook user data without limitations. Deleted content, hidden content, private messages, stuff marked "Only Me" - if those companies wanted access to it, they could have it. Facebook never even bothered to try and stop them. All in pursuit of a little more money. Just another million on the company valuation. Just one more stack on Zucc's net worth.
All I can say now, after looking through all the data I've ever put up on Facebook, is that this really sucks. It really fucking sucks. I liked Facebook, that's all it was. I liked that I could put my voice out there for the people I know to hear and see, anytime, anywhere. I liked to be able to crack jokes with my friends across the globe. I liked to be able to connect at any moment with the few people I genuinely consider friends, and all Facebook ever did was take advantage of those likes so that they could earn money. It was all a joke to them, the whole time. We were the idiots.
Deleting and hiding all those posts, from my engagement and wedding to the little jokes Tristan and I used to post on each other's walls while we were literally in the same room, made me extremely sad. That whole part of my life, all those little moments of accessibility that I chose to give my friends are now gone forever. They were hard to delete, because I liked them. And as I got back to the year 2006, and as I saw all those old names and interactions, those pokes and messages, I suddenly remembered a song that I hadn't thought about in years. The song is a memory too, back from my high school days playing PS2 in basements. The days of first cars and those college acceptance packets. It all circles back.