Facebook had replaced much of the emotional labor of social networking that consumed previous generations. We have forgotten (or perhaps never noticed) how many hours our parents spent keeping their address books up to date, knocking on doors to make sure everyone in the neighborhood was invited to the weekend BBQ, doing the rounds of phone calls with relatives, clipping out interesting newspaper articles and mailing them to a friend, putting together the cards for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, and more. We don’t think about what it’s like to carefully file business cards alphabetically in a Rolodex. People spent a lot of time on these sorts of things, once, because the less of that work you did, the less of a social network you had.
Sarah Jeong reflects on leaving Facebook. One of the things that stood out from her discussion was the habits that we have lost or forgotten. This touched on the ‘templated’ nature of platforms such as Facebook. It also reminds me of Marshall McLuhan’s tetrad and what is lost with new technology. What has seemingly been lost is the ability to converse and maintain deep social connections.