Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may be letting politicians lie, leaving overworked group moderators out to dry and rocking unforgivable TERF bangs, but now it’s time we talked about a different havoc he’s wreaked on society: the Facebook Friendiversary. Introduced in 2015, Facebook Friendiversaries are short videos honoring the anniversary of becoming Facebook friends with someone, and they are a scourge.
They can be a quick walk down memory lane. Some are a nice reprieve in the middle of a mundane workday chronicling the journey from drunk college roommates to best friends giving speeches at each other’s weddings.
Others, though, are somber reminders of people you’d like to forget. If you’ve been on the social network for years, chances are your feed mostly comprises faces from the past. “Facebook Friendiversaries can kind of serve as a reality check. They can really make you feel old,” Shelby Kettrick, 25, tells MEL.
In September, Kettrick received a seven-year Friendiversary video with a dormmate she met during college orientation. Their real-life friendship lasted only through Welcome Week, though. “When I saw the Friendiversary, I had to go creep on their profile a bit before I remembered who they even were,” Kettrick says. “It kind of sent me on a brief spiral of realizing that it had been seven years since I started college.”
If you can get past the “Fuck, I’m Old” feeling, sometimes a Friendiversary shows you how much better you’re doing than an old pal. Kettrick began creeping on her rando former dorm friend’s profile, perusing posts by their girlfriend and eventually wedding photos. There wasn’t a ton of new content. “It can be really entertaining to land on someone’s profile who hasn’t changed their Facebook pic since like 2012 and see them still rocking the emo swoop,” Kettrick says.
Sometimes, though, it’s best to let your college memories stay on campus. Unluckily for Morgan Blodgett, she’s reminded of her debauchery every few weeks — like friend-requesting classmates and townies when drunk. “There were some days I would have 20 to 30 Friendiversaries. They were always people I knew kinda well or barely at all,” Blodgett tells MEL.
That’s the ideal Friendiversary reaction: nostalgia keeping you on Facebook for another five minutes. What isn’t ideal is an ex using a Friendiversary to reconnect.
We’re only a week into 2020 and Cody Rankin’s ex has already slid into his DMs to say “Happy Facebook Friendiversary.” “It was the perfect opportunity for her to bring up conversation and then ignore me immediately after again lmao,” Rankin, 23, tells me over Twitter DM. “It was unnecessary and frustrating.”
Sometimes, a Friendiversary can even be traumatic. In September, Cynthia Prisco got a one-year Friendiversary for her neighbor who died a month earlier. “It’s just this really unsettling feeling where you’re being automatically handed a reminder of a loss,” Prisco tells MEL.
Friendiversaries with the deceased will only become more common. Facebook is preparing for the number of dead users to outnumber the living within the next 50 years. While the tech company allows loved ones to turn a deceased’s presence into a legacy account, it’s unclear if this will stop their Friendiversary notifications.
Users can turn off “On This Day” and Friendversary alters, but doing so for a dead friend can seem a little cold. “It kind of feels like blocking out the memory of someone,” Prisco says. She hasn’t muted her deceased neighbor.
Instead, Prisco is coming to terms with receiving traumatic Friendiversaries. She doesn’t know what else to do. “It feels almost wrong to turn them off,” she says. Prisco, you should send your therapy bill to Zuckerberg.