I’d like to know too. Sorry if you thought the answer was here but I am eager to find out the truth about this. Why is Facebook obsessed with nostalgia and reminiscence, or is it?
Here are some articles written about this feature, which seems to know people don’t want it as it cannot be turned off and yet, on the Memories page, they use the words “we hope” you will enjoy looking at your memories. They “hope”. Why?
Tech magazines such as the Verge and Scoop Empire say various reeasons why they think memories on Facebook are not actually enjoyable for most people. For instance bad memories can bring back pain from the past as Scoop Empire shows in this article.
Sadly no one has found out WHY Facebook imposes memories on all its users and why constantly looking at the past is so important to it. Is it supporting a nefarious agenda? Does it want people to be constantly miserable or is it just that Facebook has the skin of a rhino and would never hear all the outcries? There are no in depth articles about this, which explore this question, except the Telegraph suggests that constantly photographing things on our phones is damaging our own ability to form memories, some say as if we are always drunk.
In much the same way that the establishment clamped down on raves and worked with the media to scare people off recreational drugs, bending an ear to the breweries lobbyists working in their own self interests, not the health of the nation, to get younger people into pubs with the introduction of alcopops and the Criminal Justice Act passing in 1994, is social media working for the establishment? As in a dystopian novel, is a depressed and suppressed nation what our governments want? Is there a nefarious agenda at work here?
In my experience, Facebook is like a bottomless magazine that can never be finished and I keep scrolling for interesting articles and things to look into. It is not social media to me, it is just media, like an endless newspaper. My book reading in 2012 was at least 12-24 books a year and now I am pleased if I finish one book a year. A reduction in reading literature of this scale across everyone must be having catastrophic effects on the publishing world, writers, our imaginations and on society, if no one is present anymore.
The changes made to Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm was created by “assessing the billions of likes, comments and clicks Facebook users make each day to divine ways to make us like, comment and click more.” according to this article from Time.
Have these technologies become something to be exploited? Is it being exploited and can governments and establishments resist the opportunities to exploit this for their own agendas? Has social media’s power fallen into the wrong hands?
Social media seems to manage to exert too much control over people’s lives. On one hand, going on Facebook is like seeing everyone’s personal diaries full of self-absorbed commentary on health or diet and on the other hand it is like going to a party where celebrities are broadcasting and everyone else has appallingly bad social skills. Then a town crier comes in with “read all about it” and shares some old news and the walls are decorated with photographs of Trump. Plus some kittens.
As articles about why Facebook forces nostalgia on us are seemingly absent, I next explored the psychology of reminiscence and gazing at the past to see what’s up. Something funny is going on. I found three articles that stated toward their end that nostalgia actually helps with depression. This doesn’t sit quite right after paragraphs such as:
The past is as elusive a dream as the future. Always distorted, always yearned for, and always seen as better days. It keeps us from the truth of the present and the pain of reality. It’s seen as something beautiful, something irrevocable and somewhere that will always be better than where we are now.” – Elite Daily, 17 July 2014
This article even said that nostalgia was considered a disorder in 17th century. However, again it sets out its table to say nostalgia is more healthy than not. What is going on? Does Facebook base its Memories on these findings or are they in supportive of it, in the same way that “experts” are wheeled onto diet programmes to say that we need to drink cow’s milk to get vitamin B12?
Anyone who has read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle – a truly delighted man who seems to genuinely love life – may question any recommendations for reminiscence (reflection on the past) or hope (close to desperacy and leaving the future to chance) as to be inferior to living in the present, being present, being in the room, hearing what is going right now. A search for “living in the present and not the past finally yields results. Or does it?
I have found that searching for why Facebook is dealing in nostalgia and makes it hard for us to switch if off yields no results and there seems to be a lack of psychology articles on why nostalgia could be bad for us as they all seem to actually promote it. However, searching for living in the present does yield results, all of which leaves me even more curious as to what Facebook’s On This Day and Memories features are there to do to us.
More independent media such as the Huffington Post actually agrees that the past cheats you of the present. They wrote in 2014 – surprised more recent articles didn’t come up in a search? Me too.
Living in the past is a problem because it robs you of the opportunity to enjoy the present. Not enjoying the present? If you aren’t happy where you are, living in the past won’t help! Living in the past allows you to avoid dealing with issues in the present. – Huffpost 6th June 2014
In conclusion, my guess would be that nostalgia has become a highly profitable industry, with music, films, sitcoms and photos all serving its aims. Social media is forcing us to reminisce so that we may consume more vinyl records, vintage clothing, classic cars and all sorts of seasonal items, possibly.
However, I think it is more sinister than that. I think that this blanket of nostalgic mist that the media and the Internet surrounds us in like a foam party is more about what it wants us to stop doing: being in the present, being focused, seeing what is going on, not being programmed or brainwashed or distracted and gathering together today to stop the wars, austerity, homelessness, Brexit, injustice, selling off public services, child poverty, inequality and bad governance because we’re too busy gazing into the past.
Therefore, ignoring articles that seem to almost contradict themselves is a good place to start and use your own instincts to think about things and work out what is going on. Most of the suggestions in this article by the Guardian require being in the present, such as noticing the world around you. Not one of these suggestions is to gaze and your old posts and memories on Facebook.