The 34-45 set's infiltration of Facebook has brought little positive change to my user experience, unless one considers increased instances of "So and so threw a sheep at so and so" and "25 things about me" on the friend feed an improvement. They are weirdly earnest in their organization of profile information, and they're into passe stuff (sheep throwing, above). But. They have brought with them one great, compensatory thing--an incredible proliferation of old baby photos, which they, thanks to internet incompetence, have failed to make inaccessible to me. One instance of excellent consequences for oversharing.
I love old baby photos. Actually, I don't love baby photos per se since they typically focus too much on the babies (who all look kind of alike) at the expense of the lives of their families, but I love photos of childhood generally, which are generally better contextualized in some family setting. In addition to the weird '80s sitcom fascination, I have now logged at least as many hours looking through the family photo albums of distant acquaintances and complete strangers, and noting their paneled basements, their disheveled, toy-strewn backyards, and their massive, face-swallowing eyeglasses. Particularly interesting are the photos of people I know and people who grew up in places I know, but I've branched out to childhoods everywhere. They are--or were in the 1970s, '80s, and early '90s, when most of these photos seem to have been taken--marvelously messy, mismatched, and unhealthy. People who appear to be very dignified and put together have all been caught either running around in their underpants with marshmallow goo in their hair, or supervising such escapades by their children from the vantage point of dented and torn lounge chairs in their backyards. This is endlessly fascinating! I know it's an obvious fact about both the nature of family photos and oversharing on teh internets, but before the great Facebook Emporium of Baby Photos, you could only know this by extrapolation from your own family photo album since you had very limited access to other people's.
I realize this interest is both a form of voyeurism and a surrender to misguided, possibly totalitarian nostalgia, but the photos--they're so charming! Some people, in their equally creepy enthusiasm to display these things to all the world, have even scanned and uploaded ancient photos of their grandparents as children, which I also LOVE. More photos, people--I want to know as much about your family as you do, even if I don't even know you. The history of even very recent private life is hard to pin down, as it should be, and even where knowing it is of no real use to anyone, seeing glimpses of it still makes me happy. Why is this? Just standard voyeurism and weakness for kitsch? What if we could establish a national online family photo album repository purely for its potential to get closer to completing the great, completely totalitarian project of reconstructing every minute of every life everywhere in America? If we could, I would be content, but unable to ever tear myself away from the internet again.