Why We’re Loving The Facebook Movies

I think Facebook movies may well be the smartest thing Facebook has done in years.

For the first time in a long time I’ve thought about the beauty of Facebook rather than the marketing, manipulation of information, and oh god, algorithms, don’t get me started on algorithms. Facebook, if I “liked” it I obviously “like” it, so please just let me see it!

I wrote a terrible blog post yesterday, I lost my way half way through. I needed more time to think but it was a half day at school and I ran out of time. I pushed the publish button when I shouldn’t have.

“I didn’t really get today’s post” G said gently last night.

“Don’t worry, neither did I, it was bloody awful, I hated it. Every minute of it.”

And I did. It made me grumpy, I felt dissatisfied. Writing a bad article or post is similar to making your way through a complicated jigsaw puzzle only to discover you’re missing the last piece. Roughly 80% of my time spent writing time is awkward and often deeply embarrassing. I’m nearly always sure that everything I’ve written is complete crap. Yesterday, there was no question. I deleted the post, got cross with myself for wasting time and thought about a career in teaching.

So why keep going?

It’s that remaining 20%.

That 20% for me is all about the sharing. It’s like therapy. The blog is at a size now that often when I’m out (and usually looking crap with unwashed hair and something stuck in my teeth) someone will stop me to say that something I wrote made them laugh or cry. Recently I met a woman at a party who grabbed my arm and said  “I just had to come and say hello, you got me through my first three months here, I read every post while sitting in my shitty temporary housing and thought if this woman can do it I can do it.”

When I began my expat journey there were no blogs or online expat communities, there was no Facebook. I sat in my hotel room looking out over a grey and damp Jakarta wondering how I was going to make a life for myself without the career and friends I’d left behind. I made that new life by building new friendships, over and over and over again. New friends, more sharing, more stories, more listening. It’s the only way to survive this expat life, you have to get out there, jump in feet first.

In my travels I’ve seen that it doesn’t matter where we’re from, whether it’s Libya, Indonesia, Qatar, or Canada, we’re all looking for pretty much the same thing. In amongst family, babies and birthdays, it’s the everyday: new jobs, hiking up mountains, gaining a degree, developing a passion. We love to support each other in our milestones, bask in each others happiness, support in each others sorrow.

I read a note in the comments of the 4 kids, 20 suitcases Facebook page yesterday that said it all, “if you reach down deep enough into the personal you will find the universal.”

When Facebook began, before the ads and algorithms, that’s exactly why we all joined. We joined to connect with each other, keep in contact and share both our grief and happiness. And as gimmicky as those Facebook movies may appear, they show us what’s been important to us over the years.

The personal, the universal.

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