Facebook lets you filter bad memories out of your nostalgia
Facebook is a nostalgia machine, with features like “Year in Review” and “On This Day” summoning photos and posts from the past in an attempt to entertain users. However, these memories aren’t always welcome, and the social network has often been accused of “inadvertent algorithmic cruelty” — accidentally confronting users with painful memories, like images of dead friends and relatives, without warning. To avoid this the company is introducing a pair of filters for its “On This Day” tool, letting users specify individuals and dates they don’t want to be reminded of.
+Commentary: So when they created “On This Day” they clearly did know that people often have meltdowns, crisis, and very sad things they share openly with their friends. Many years ago, as it was becoming popular there were several live-suicides, prior to them introducing a self-harm reporting process. Surely someone on their UX & UI teams, a few of the engineers, maybe the team that handles the reportage process brought this to their attention?
Don’t get me wrong, enjoying that trip down memory lane is great for me personally, and since I’ve only lost a few friends recently, it is actually refreshing to see the comedic routines we engaged in for the past few years. Even if they are at times tinged with a touch of sadness. They compensate for the fact that he’s no longer here & not posting, so it is like his “Greatest Hits” of Social Media.
Yet having monitored Social Media, seeing a lot of people, friends, clients, business owners, and regular folks in general have meltdowns, lose friends to suicide, or just post errant things — the type of things one should never post, but alas we all make mistakes and so we’ve probably all posted something we’d rather not be reminded of. It occurs to me that this filter, is actually a good thing, keeping exes or bad breakups, but at the same time, and probably more often than not, a lesson in what we share or why we share.
For me, the space has always been an extension of myself without being me in totality, in effect a Post-Emotional Performative Web experience, which strikes me as odd that others don’t necessarily do the same. Or give it the gravitas, but for them it is a personal experience & not a professional one. That isn’t to say that on occasion the “real me” doesn’t shine through, but on the whole it is usually a running commentary or riff on current social media trends. Of course in some way we are all performing ourselves on social media and any of us curate it to humble-brag or keep up with the Jones’ in this digital millennium.
Everyone does it, saint & sinner alike, but honestly reviewing what we’ve posted in the past, considering the friendships lost (or gained) because of our posts, the causes we championed, should in some way make us uncomfortable. In some ways if we don’t see our past mistakes, aren’t we doomed to repeat them? Even with this “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” filter for your memories, might you then live woefully unaware the next time your Team Overshare Meltdown happens?
In this current epoch, deleting, unfriending, blocking…all serve to put a punctuation in a run-on sentence that is the firehose of social media streams. Even when the simple act of doing this doesn’t necessarily provide either party with a resolution. These are tools we use on spammers, trolls, and abusive people. With our Domestic Violence statistics the global disgrace that they are, surely at least a portion, maybe even significant one at that is warranted. Yet when you use those same tools for someone who has slighted you on Facebook, or had the temerity to disagree with you on White Supremacy — further curating yourself or others into a bubble while you post hyperbolic political fodder daily?
Yes, these are real scenes from one life, but seeing it happen as people take “breaks” from social media, in fact my memories for 2010 don’t seem to exist, which strikes me as very odd. Yet have to trust Facebook is actually showing me all of my “memories.” That will be the day.
In conclusion, this is a helpful tool, but think its practical use will be to render people further apart & erase the not-as-painful memories & friendships that have been ruined, along with maybe more introspection by people on how they actually use Social Media. Which if meditated on might produce more thoughtful or critical use by us all.