I sensed a disturbance in the social-media force. Something was happening in the feed. Time began to warp, the years draining away like Zuckerberg had pulled the plug on the great online bathtub of information that is Facebook. My friends were getting younger. There's a hot trend romping through Facebook where people go back into the archives and repost the first profile photo they used on the site.
I first noticed this happening a few days ago. What fed it is how my friends would nominate each other to join in the time-warp fun. It's hard not to do it when someone double-dog-dares you.
I have mixed feelings about bandwagon activities on Facebook. I can't stand the types of posts that include missives saying things along the lines of "If you don't repost this, then you don't love me and you're not my real friend." I'm so very over the copy-and-pasted Snopes before we post, mmmkay?. Let's just all agree to check
But there's something charming about going back and excavating your old profile photo. It's like having a chunk of the Internet sit you down on its online couch and open an old photo album. Except you don't have to sit there forever thumbing through pictures and making oohing noises. It's just one quick, fun moment and it's done.
I had some trepidation when I went back into my Facebook albums in search of my first profile photo. I couldn't remember what it looked like. I knew for sure it wasn't some bathroom-mirror selfie. I smiled with relief when I dove into the depths of my "Profile Pictures" album and discovered my first photo was taken by a professional photographer, Ed Taylor. It was taken back in 2008, when I was still busy gigging all the time with a folk-rock band and was sporting what I like to think of as my Keith-Richards-wakes-up-in-the-'70s hair style.
I joined Facebook in early 2009. As far as I can tell, my first status update was a photo of my mother's Australian Shepherd-mix puppy. Since then, my profile photos have cycled through pictures of me with a horse, at Stonehenge and standing in front of a 1956 DeSoto.
More recently, I went for a radical change and shifted to an image of Berkeley Breathed's Opus (a penguin character from my favorite comic strip, "Bloom County") sporting a Bill the Cat t-shirt, my first foray into a profile photo that wasn't actually me.
Facebook has gone through a lot of changes since I joined, including timelines and the revamped news feed. My friends have been through marriages, babies, jobs and artistic endeavors.
Resharing those old profile pictures is like casting a fishing line back through time and snagging the start of it all, back when social media was young and there was a fresh enthusiasm about sharing your life online. This is one viral trend I don't mind participating in. Plus, I think I'm going to cut my hair and go back to that 2008 look.