Dear Facebook: we’ve made it ten years. Can you believe it?
At the beginning, you were a means to an end, you know? I wanted to talk to my new best friend, who lived in Australia at the time. She recommended you, and we hit it off well. Remember those early days of character limits on statuses that started with “Aprille is…”? Fun times.
Before you began radically transforming the world as we know it, you began transforming me:
I was a shy introvert. You gave me a voice. Suddenly, I realized that I wanted to share about my life, and people actually cared.
You taught me that the world was so much bigger than I knew, that I could meet up with random strangers for coffee that not only didn’t kill me – but became my dear friends (I’m talking about you, Stephanie).
You were there when I announced I was “in a relationship.” You witnessed my wedding, my three pregnancy announcements, and the birth of my two children.
When the Army moved me across the country from the friends I had made and the support I had, you made it so they weren’t that far away after all. So when my baby has a rash, a quick Facebook message to our-favorite-pediatric-nurse-from-six-year-ago is all that’s needed to set a mama’s mind at ease.
Remember that time we broke up? It wasn’t you, it was me. I promise. I mean, granted, you have this way of exposing me – really exposing me. My flaws. My anger. The times I should keep my “mouth” shut and don’t.
You exposed me for what I am: a people-pleasing addict. A girl who wants desperately to be loved and known, but doesn’t always look for love in the right places. A girl who tries too hard and cares too much about what people think.
So when we broke up for a month, I had to face that girl. It was hard and scary but it transformed me.
When we got back together, I made some hard decisions. I decided that I couldn’t please everyone; and better yet – I didn’t have to. I decided that sometimes I had to choose me at the risk of offending someone or worse – someone not liking me anymore.
You showed me that sometimes the “unfriend” button can be your greatest tool. Other times, it can be a knife that ruins a relationship beyond repair.
You taught me that having a voice, being authentic, and sharing your story can transform not just your life but the lives of others. You also taught me that having a voice, being authentic, and sharing your story can do a lot of damage, cause a lot of misunderstandings, and cause relationships to fall apart.
Because of you, I’ve learned that sometimes, it’s better to just pick up the phone.
You’ve allowed me to fall apart and to be stronger than I realized I could be. To make mistakes, to be an example. To vent, to be silent. To hurt people, to be hurt by people. To care too much, to care too little.
Dear Facebook, you’ve shown me that when I put myself out there, I won’t always like what I see.
You’ve taught me wisdom, discernment, and tact.
You’ve taught me to jump and give and take risks.
You gave me my best friends. My favorite acquaintances. You’ve allowed me to watch children grow up across the country or halfway around the world – a network of adopted nieces and nephews that I’ve never even met but care for deeply.
You have showed me how easy it is to be ruled by fear: the fear of what people think of me, the fear of making mistakes, the fear of things that could hurt my health, the fear of tragedy. You’ve shown me how easy it is to adopt a whole belief system because of what people on the internet say. You’ve shown me how dangerous that is.
You’ve exposed my deepest flaws – the times I feel threatened by the choices other moms are making. The times I cared too much about myself and not enough about others.
You’ve shown me that putting myself out there is always a risk. I’m risking being misunderstood. I’m risking being hurt. I’m risking people thinking the wrong things about me. I’m risking what I say being twisted and used against me.
But with that risk comes the possibility of great reward: the possibility of making a friend, encouraging someone, sharing God’s truth, changing a life, or having the opportunity to work through something hard and see God get the glory.
Dear Facebook: are my worst enemy – yet my best friend. I hate you – yet I love you. You tear me down – you put me back together. I hate how dependent I am on you for, um, everything – and yet I am so thankful for the conveniences in connection that you afford.
I love how my babies can share their life with their grandparents. I love how you give me a voice to encourage others. I love how people from my past are just a message or tag away.
So, dear Facebook, on this our ten-year anniversary:
Thank you. For everything.