Departments First Words — 11 January 2019
Whose life is it anyway on Facebook?

By Mark Gauert

City & Shore Magazine

Facebook and I parted company recently on the “Your Year on Facebook” project, citing “creative” and “philosophical” differences.

I know, I know. Nobody Likes it.

I thought you should hear from me why you won’t be seeing the personalized video of my memorable moments from last year before you’re offered any salacious, “behind-the-scenes” accounts. Let me just say up front, despite what you might have heard or read, that we remain Friends.

Facebook and I had been having what many of our handlers described as “good meetings,” “meaningful comments” even “shareable posts.”

Then came their “notes” on the way I envisioned my “Year on Facebook should go to market.

First, they said no to Chris Pine in the profile picture role. They said no to my No. 2 choice, Jeff Daniels, too. They even said no to that default image you see before you post a profile picture – you know, the shadowy cutout with a curl of hair like the cartoon character Tintin. (For the record, they said no to Tintin, too.)

They were insistent I use MY picture, a non-starter for me, obviously, because, thinking of my public profile here, I am not (a) Chris Pine, (b) Jeff Daniels or (c) Tintin. (Though please ignore anything you might have heard or read from my family on that.)

I was prepared to concede the point if we could just get on with the project, until they started offering even more deal-killing notes on what THEY thought were the most memorable memories in MY “Year on Facebook.” I’m sorry, but is the title of this production “Facebook’s Year on Facebook”?

It is not.

Good, because, to my mind, “My Year on Facebook” is a heartwarming and inspirational experience – think “The Finest Hours” but with magazine editing instead of U.S. Coast Guard rescuing and me instead of Chris Pine. (I’ll wait.) Or a heartwarming and inspirational version of “The Newsroom,” except with magazine editing instead of TV producing and me instead of Jeff Daniels. (Still waiting.)

I’m just trying to put butts in swivel seats in front of computer terminals here, people!

Instead, the early dailies on Facebook’s version of “My Year on Facebook” looked more like “The Adventures of Tintin,” except with more pratfalls and me instead of Tintin. (Not waiting.)

Instead of warm hearts, inspiration and Chris Pine, there was a photo I took of my kid clowning around at a museum, poking his face through a cardboard cutout of a toboggan crew. There was a photo my wife shot of me laughably out of breath upon reaching the top of a mountain in Scotland, where she’d taken me to celebrate my Big Birthday. (Please ignore anything you might have heard or read about which Big Birthday.) There was the photo I posted on Mother’s Day, of me when I was 4 years old and my mom standing next to a 1960 Buick. (Again, ignore.)

“How cute!” reads one comment under the photo of me and my mom.

“Who is this adorable little boy?” reads another.

To which I say, Eat your heart out, Chris Pine!

But these are MY memories, Facebook! What makes you think you can just take and shape them, disregarding my creative and philosophical POV? (And then fill my newsfeed with ads for Buicks.)

“Sometimes, looking back helps us remembers what matters most,” Facebook intoned on the closing shot of my video.


Which is why I suppose we’re still Friends, despite what you might have heard or read. But I’m keeping the “My Year on Facebook” project to myself.

This is the time of year we should look forward, not back, anyway. A new year, new beginning, new possibilities at, arguably, the best time of the year to be here.

Just remember what will matter most to you, at the end of Your Year.

And that somebody might be taking notes.

   – Mark Gauert,





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