Photo memories, when they first popped up on Facebook we all smiled with nostalgia and enjoyed dipping in and out of the albums that had been long forgotten, of times gone by that we’d giggled about and commented on at the time!
However, when it comes to relationships Facebook’s efforts to bring a bit of happiness to our everyday lives by tapping into past memories has actually been found to have the opposite effect of making us sad or creating weird undesired tension with an unsuspecting person whose past you have dipped into.
How it makes you sad – And what Facebook are doing about it
Old photos inevitably mean old relationships and old faces in your life that might not be around anymore. You could be happily going about your day, have a quick dip into facebook and suddenly you are faced with a happy smiling photo of your ex, who it has taken you the best part of 6 months to stop thinking about everyday. Great. That sick feeling returns to your stomach as you try to stop yourself browsing the album with a tear in your eye.
You can delete or block them, yes, that helps, as talked about in a previous post, but sometimes you don’t want to totally sever connections with ex’s, you might have mutual friends or still see them from time to time. Plus, you can hide them in your newsfeed, so you don’t get regular updates from them without making a statement about removing them as a friend. But photo memories, it can pop up totally unexpected and hits you right where it hurts!
Don’t worry though, Facebook has cleverly thought of a way around this by checking past relationship statuses and ensuring that any past connections are barred from the particular algorithm that brings up the memories facebook thinks you might like to see.
Facebook Photos Project Manager Sam Odio said “I’d like to let you know that we’re listening to your feedback. The photo memories product no longer shows tagged photos of your friends if you were previously in a relationship with them.”
I wonder often if facebook has a relationship psychologist working for them on this stuff and who that is? The level of impact the network can have on our easily influenced minds is now quite extraordinary with books like this one – Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age, now appearing on the shelfs of self help book shop aisles all over the world.
“Facebook makes dating far more complicated than it used to be.” Mashable
Creating awkward tension
The other weird thing about photo memories does is that it can create an unexpected fascination with unexpected people. People you may not even really think about on a day to day basis, or people you have maybe only dated a few times and thought it probably wouldn’t go anywhere. But other people’s old photos are interesting. Admit it. We’ve been harmlessly on our Facebook newsfeed pages when all of a sudden we get distracted by an interesting looking shot in the photo memories section. We click on that photo recommendation and all of a sudden we’ve lost 30 minutes flicking through an album that belongs to someone you don’t know, featuring someone you know now, but you didn’t 5 years ago when these shots were taken. Facebook has intrigued us, got our natural voyeur engaged! Then, before you know it you suddenly have a bizarre knowledge about that person, one they have no idea about. If you mention it to them, do you look like a stalker?
“How has your week been?”, “Well I spent Wednesday night browsing through your holiday pictures from Thailand in 2005, and thinking how hot your ex girlfriend was back then…”
Facebook does things that encourage our inner stalker. But does it creates a curiosity that wouldn’t have been there otherwise? The other important thing to bear in mind is that apparently the infamous algorithm serves us photos in this section of those people we interact with or visit the pages of the most. So, if we keep getting pictures of the ex, or people we are fascinated to find out more about, have we actually brought it on ourselves, is Facebook simply amplifying our natural behaviours and we just don’t want to admit it?