Before There Was Facebook…

This summer, before I joined the staff of Oneupweb, I stunned an intern who had spent a morning “hard” at “work:”

“Guess how old I am,” I said. (Not particularly, I like to think.)
“I have no idea,” she responded.
“I’m so old that, when I was in college, we didn’t even have Facebook.”
Finding her sufficiently speechless, I walked away.

The conversation made me, in a twisted way, wistful for the actual freshman facebook all incoming students were given when I entered school. Page after page of senior picture, alphabetically arranged, listing the student’s high school, hometown, anticipated major, and two hobbies. Nowhere to list our favorite movies or bands, and certainly nowhere to post photos from Friday night. Just headshots, and what you selected when you filled out the checklist in June is what defined you for your time at school.

For all its limitations, it was pretty cool. A jumping-off point, perhaps, for a conversation with a new hallmate. Or an inefficient-but-useful way to find out the name of “that” girl – the one who sat in the fourth row, two seats from the aisle, and arrived three minutes late every day in Psych A10.

Also, a fantastic resource: I’ve got friends who, eight years later, can tell you the name of the person with the most ridiculous mustache or the biggest forehead in the incoming class of 1998.

The person who would become my roommate for my final three years at school had the right idea when he was filling out his Facebook checklist during the summer of 1998:

Hobby 1: Soccer
Hobby 2: Other – Jazzercise

In 1998, it wasn’t particularly funny. It confused some, amused others, and gave us a source of jokes for those hours of free time that kids now spend “Facebooking.”

In 2006, it still wouldn’t be particularly funny, and he’d probably be served ads for leg-warmers.