Facebook’s vestigial organs and pages are nostalgic ghost towns

Facebook, undisputed king of social media for years, has been more or less the same way for a long time. The ubiquity of smart phones, the Facebook app, and access to 4G or LTE data has coagulated the experience into one that has remained remarkably similar in a fast-paced internet ecosystem.

It didn’t used to be that way. Facebook was originally a social media website for college students, and you had to have a university email ending in .edu to join. After its immense success, Facebook slowly opened its doors more and more, allowing high schoolers to join and even some hip adults.

When I joined Facebook in the summer of 2007, the site had already went through multiple iterations. It had rapidly acquired millions of users by that point. And in 2008, Facebook rolled out a major new redesign. The name ‘New Facebook’ will send shivers down your spine if you were an active user of Facebook at that time. It was a cataclysmic and highly divisive event.

Facebook, like all social media, is a digital scrapbook. Part of its fun is going back and reliving what happened. But unlike scrapbooks, which stay the same once they are completed, Facebook changes, morphs, evolves. None of it is in your control. And as such, the rapid alterations can and do leave behind vestigial pieces–appendixes and wisdom teeth and dude nipples–things that don’t matter now, even if they used to, and things that are forced to the periphery by the forces of Zuckerberg.

It is these pieces that are the true nostalgia of Facebook, ghost town elements that were once something but after countless redesigns barely function if they do at all.

I was looking through my groups, managing notifications on some of the new ones I had joined, when I truly recognized the extent of this. Seven years ago, Facebook essentially eviscerated groups created before 2011, when they mandated that groups be transitioned to the new format. If you didn’t, your poor group wouldn’t continue to function.

But while they didn’t functionally survive, they technically survived. They’re now ghosts. Distributed among the legitimate groups of which I am a member are these ghosts.

I vaguely remember creating a page called “The horn is the best instrument ever” and inviting my horn friends to join. It is entirely empty. I am the admin. No posts survived.

Apparently, my 16-year-old self though joining a page called “Sorry to burst your buble, but it’s ‘Merry Christmas'” was a good idea. I am the admin and only member. Eight posts from 2007 still exist, somehow.

My high school debuted a ‘Health and Wellness’ policy which took away many of the sweets and snacks from the vending machines. Of course there was a group. Four complaints litter the ground of the discussion tab. I am the admin. One other member technically exists, but it looks like he has since deleted his Facebook account.

A few more exist. Some groups from college, with actual members. Some without admins, Facebook pleading with me to become an admin to ‘help the group thrive.’ Some groups which revealed that friends of mine had defriended me for reasons unknown.

I’ve found that there are two types of nostalgia, and while both including pining for something that you can’t have again, the point of view between those types is entirely different. One type is happiness that the event happened. The memories have color, sounds are sharp, and they are almost alive.

But these broken Facebook groups force you to remember memories through the second type of nostalgia. This nostalgia is aware that those moments are dead. You will never experience them again. To remember is your only tool in accessing those moments, and if the tool you use to remember those memories purposefully breaks them, what’s the point?

This is the best tweet of all time

For a good half decade, the social media landscape has been relatively stable. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the Kings, and though others have risen and fallen (Vine, Snapchat), the bedrock has remained mostly untouched.

Importantly, though, it didn’t used to be that way. In the early 2000s, after the Dot Com Boom and when broadband internet gained widespread usage in the United States, entrepreneurs created a bevy of social media websites and services. Their names will conjure intense nostalgia for those who lived through it: AIM, Xanga, Friendster, Myspace. Generation X will not remember this, but at one point Myspace was as ubiquitous as Facebook is now.

One of the bands I was into in high school–The Afters–included a song called Myspace Girl on their 2008 album Never Going Back to OK. At the time, it was a sweet and quirky tune about how one of the band members met his future wife by finder her on Myspace after a chance meetup at a fast food restaurant.

Now, the song seems incredibly outdated, which is fascinating because it is only nine years old. Myspace terms like ‘Top Eight’ and a play on words about turning ‘Myspace’ into ‘Ourspace’ are bizarre, and after almost 15 years of social media etiquette having developed this seems more like a particularly egregious case of digital stalking than something that deserves to be a song.

The point is: back in the late ’00s, social media was new. Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in 2004, and it wasn’t until 2006 that anybody could join; it didn’t turn from ‘place where high school and college kids hang out’ to ‘place where adults make racist remarks in the comments section of a news article’ until 2009 at least .

And Twitter–oh, Twitter–Twitter was a totally different place in 2007. People were just learning to use it. At the time, it seemed idiotic, at least to me: what’s the point of Twitter at all? It’s just the ‘status’ line from Facebook? Laaaame.


I joined Twitter less than five years later and it is so much more useful than Facebook has ever been, especially for my work with Royals Review. Suffice it to say, this status did not age well.*

*In multiple ways! Remember when statuses said by default ‘YOUR NAME is’ and then what you put? Then, remember when they got rid of the ‘is’ and you could use any verb you want? Now, your name is not even attached to any status–or ‘post’, I suppose it is now. Social media is whack.

Twitter was lifted out the primordial internet soup in 2006, and it will celebrate its twelfth anniversary this month. As for any social media service, it took people a few years to learn it and utilize it properly.

And that led to this, the Greatest Tweet of All Time:

Yes, that’s the official National Football League team the Los Angeles Chargers tweeting about needing to go to PF Changs. And before you ask–yes, that was the Chargers’ official Twitter account back in 2007.

How did this happen? Well, Rodger Sherman over at SB Nation looked into it and has an explanation. Essentially, Joel Price, a digital media employee for the Chargers, snagged the @Chargers handle and began tweeting both personal and Chargers things. After a few months he got his own handle, @joelprice, and the @Chargers account became the official account of the team, as is standard practice nowadays.

But they never deleted Joel’s early musings.┬áSo now, it just looks like the Chargers have an undying love for PF Changs.

This tweet is also just pure comedy gold. Everything is perfect. He’s not ‘so’ hungry; he’s ‘soo’ hungry. He could have said he needed to ‘meet his wife’ or ‘go with the wife,’ but he used the much more colorful ‘find my wife,’ as if exploration is a common precursor to food consumption for him. And PF Changs is the type of perfect specificity that makes comedians’ jokes work: it’s well-known enough that pretty much everyone has seen one or been to it at least once, but it’s off-the-wall enough to add a level of ridiculousness to it all that makes it even funnier.

Are their funnier tweets? Sure. Are there better ones? Sure. But this is the perfect tweet: it’s an insight into the history of social media, a hilarious declaration of hunger, and a bizarre anachronism all at once. It is the best tweet of all time.