December 8 – What Facebook Gets Almost Right About 2017

If you use social media, Facebook in particular, you probably know about the “Year in Review” that is popping up on your home feed. If you don’t use Facebook, just know that this Year in Review is a completely insidious invasion of the privacy you surrendered to Facebook when you first opened an account.

Through use of algorithms and other things I don’t understand, Facebook has rummaged through the posts and photos of each of its nearly 2 billion users to create a personalized 65-second highlights video of the past year for each one of us.

Set to innocuous music, the highlights reel presents about 30 images interposed with this narrative:

It was more than just 365 days.
It was each new friend.
All the birthday wishes.
And every little show of support.
Because a year is made of more than just time.
It’s all the people you spent time with.
Thanks for being here!
From all of us at Facebook.

If you think about it, the thing is kind of creepy. Some mega-computer in Menlo Park, California, knows my life, and the lives of 2 billion others, so well as to be able to inform me as to the highlights of another year in the life God has given me.

I loved my Year in Review. The narcissist in me took a look at it as soon as it appeared on my feed. The robots had done a good job of capturing some of the best parts of the year as I remember them. In case you are wondering, those are my highlight at the top of the page.

One of the categories of photos scrubbed from my account was for those used in the “each new friend section.” Sure enough, the faces of some of the people who had become official Facebook friends were there, and, I guess, some whose visages the facial recognition software did not recognize from prior years. I told you it’s kind of creepy.

Anyway, right there at 00:16, the face of the final new friend appears. It’s Jesus. Well, an image of my favorite of Rembrandt’s heads of Christ. I had used the image in a post from Holy Week and Facebook caught it, thinking he was one of my new acquaintances for the year.

Thank you, Facebook, you got it almost right. The fact of the matter is that Jesus “friended” me years ago, a long time before social media. But, yes, Facebook, his friendship mattered again in 2017. There were some big shows of support. And, if I might borrow your phrase, Facebook, “thanks, Jesus, for being here!”

And since many of us will be reading this as a link from our Facebook pages, you might want to consider this.

The Second Sunday of Advent is the Sunday we light the candle for peace.

See you Sunday