The Grand Stages of Using Facebook From the Minimum Allowed Age


Pretty much everyone I know these days is on Facebook, which makes it an undeniably good site to connect with your friends, and even - much to your own hatred - your direct family. I use it every day to talk to my friends and unashamedly snoop on everyone else's life à la NSA. And yet despite that, I hate Facebook to its core. This wasn't always the case though, as I'm about to point out to you in this post. I was the minimum age when I joined Facebook - 13 - so essentially I have grown up with the website, meaning a lot of changes have happened to get to today. Let's start from the beginning.

Not a care in the world

You're 13. Puberty hasn't quite got full grips on you just yet, but it's got enough of an influence to give you a stroppy mood. You want to join Facebook, really badly. Facebook was for the cool kids; the hierarchy was determined on how early you joined. See that kid over there, in the indoor sunglasses? He joined when he was 9.

Anyway, your parents have finally let you join "that website" (mandatory air punch and prepubescent 'yeah!' instinctively follows), and now you are free to do whatever you want, literally. And that's the first stage: you post all sorts of random crap that nobody in their right mind would care about. But you're 13, you don't think of things like that. And that was why my first ever status was: "chips". You never realise it at the time, but that initial stage was probably the nicest because you literally cared about nothing.

Memes without irony

You're 14, perhaps knocking on the door of 15 now, and you have become somewhat more self-aware. It'd be daft to say you've matured now - not when the hormones are replacing your brain's logic and reasoning - but you are now starting to do your best to appear normal and 'cool'. You want to follow the crowd. So out go the stupid posts about batteries and random TV shows, and in come the memes.

I think most of us know what a meme is: something that is viral on the Internet. There is nothing more to them. That damn multicolour dress is a meme. The Ice Bucket Challenge is a meme. It can apply to anything. But at 14/15, you had a special kind of meme. Those stupid edgy drawing memes that just seemed to pop up everywhere were the epitome of being an awesome and amazing person. They appear so daft now, but if you posted a hot fire meme, you felt like the king of the world... of social networks. Trolololol.

Memes with irony

By the time you're 16 or so, you start to realise that memes in the form of trolls and poker faces are indeed a bit stupid. And you know that everyone else pretty much shares the same opinion. So what do you do? You post more memes, obviously.

However, the difference this time is that you're posting them with irony. For example, you may share a meme in the wrong way and put a hyperbolic caption to it to point out to everyone else how daft they are. Your desired effect from this is that everyone thought you were funny and cool because you were mocking something everyone else follows blindly. In reality though, you just appeared as someone who is trying just a little bit too hard to be funny. The best real world example of this would be the people who apply the Illuminati triangle to stupid little things that vaguely resemble something three-pointed. 2 edgy 4 me, m8.

Is he dead?

Now you're 17; you're nearly an adult, for crying out loud. The hormones are settling down and adulthood is just around the corner, sending you some enticing winks. Maturity has, as near as makes no difference, pretty much fully settled in on you now. As a result, you have realised that doing all of the above is cringe and embarrassing. You stop. As in, completely and utterly stop.

It's this period of time where you go through deleting all your old, ugly profile pictures. A gentle feeling of sorrow winds through you as you realise how care-free life was not four years ago. I was very good at the silence period of Facebook. I felt that I didn't really do anything interesting enough to warrant a post, so I remained a lurker.

Doing this thing called 'adult'

The definition of Facebook has changed for me, as I firmly establish myself as an adult. The website is like a journal, a way of logging in life events with friends and family, and capturing the best moments. It seems to be the same for my friends, who now all just post pictures of elegant outings abroad with their significant other. Three years ago, my feed would be full of groups posing with alcohol like it's some badass thing to do.

I guess the next step would be marriage and baby posts, which is a creepy thought. I'm pretty much going to remain a lurker (my last post was July 2015, celebrating the passing of my driving test), but many of my friends won't. My age is pretty much the first generation who will watch several hundred other people make their own lives, buy their own house, and bring up their own family. It'll be surreal, and cool on so many levels.

So there we are. I've been growing up with Facebook, and things aren't stopping any time soon. Though I'll remain relatively quiet from now on after maturing somewhat, the website will still likely document many of my significant life events if I choose to. In 2050, I can check Facebook to see what day I bought my first apartment. The more I type about this, the more amazing it seems.

Obviously I should say that not everyone would have the same experience with Facebook through time as I did above. I was a socially awkward and relatively immature individual, so memes were perhaps more prominent for me than the average sane teenager. Anyway, I hoped you enjoyed this long read. See you soon!