Monday, March 25, 2013

The History of the World According to facebook

Thirty three isn't considered old, but at this point in time, it's old enough to remember when "your world" consisted of just those around you. The family who lived near by, the people with whom you went to school or work, and your neighbors/community. That was the typical person's world.

My high school students volunteer at the elementary school and come back in shock that kids in fourth grade have cell phones. Here I am just getting over the awe that cell phones exist! Anywhere I go people can find me (I have opinions about this, but that's for another book at another time). Anytime I need to know some random fact, I can go to Google, not only on my computer, but also on my smartphone! My calendar, phone book, music, books, and games are always right at hand. For people born in the past 10-15 years, none of this is amazing. It is as commonplace as eating or bathing.

You get the has really advanced in a decade or two. Social media is the most recent and hottest thing on the Internet. Once again, there are many implications here, but that's another topic for another time. We are going to take the fun side of this.

What if facebook had been around since the dawn of time? What would the newsfeed look like? Well, you can sit and imagine or you can read Wylie Overstreet's 2011 book, The History of the World According to facebook. And what a newsfeed! It starts 13 billion years ago with members like The Big Bang and Dark Matter and proceeds to Osama Bin Laden's death in 2011, the publication year of the book. The book is also broken up into sections of time: Introduction, Dawn of Man, Age of Wonder, Renaissance, Industrial Revolution, Information Age, Conclusion.

Those who are easily offended in the realm of politics and religion may not like the author's obvious stance taken at certain points, but I figure you shouldn't take yourself too seriously anyway. This usually shows up in the way the author mixes history from one age to the next, which is also clever. An example of this is the event post made by Boston in 1773 entitled "Tea Party!" The comment underneath, made by Benjamin Franklin, states "A worthy cause! Let's hope that in the future this event isn't misappropriated by ignorant, angry white people to advocate a backwards political agenda!" Obviously, referencing today's right wing Tea Party. Characters from the past also show up with such comments on posts way beyond their time in this same fashion.

Examples of what to expect:
Among the best posts is the Astroid, which is also on the cover.

Astroid: hitting up earth today, if you know what I mean

               T-Rex: Noooooooooooooooo!!!
               Earth: FML
               Cockroach: Whatevs...

In 1885 and 1955, Marty McFly shows up with a post, playing off of the famous Back to the Future movies. (Being my favorite movies ever, these are my favorite posts in the book. I literally LOLed.)

Famous directors, authors, and fictional characters show up, and not usually with posts. You have to pay attention to who "likes" which posts. For example, director James Cameron "likes" the check in by Titanic that reads "Titanic checked in to the Ocean Floor." The state of Oklahoma posts a picture captioned as "Dust Bowl," which is liked by John Steinbeck. And Jay Gatsby creates an event "Another Obscenely Sumptuous and Utterly Shallow Party, Darlings." The wonderful part about such posts is that you have to know these people, places, and events to get the joke. You would have to know that James Cameron directed the ever popular Titanic movie. That the Dust Bowl/Great Depression era were favorite settings for John Steinbeck's books. And that Jay Gatsby was the millionaire party boy looking to show off and find love with one woman through his over done parties. Well read and historically informed people will like this book best, as they will understand and appreciate the jokes and cleverness on every page. (It's also important that said reader has a working knowledge of FB.)

A couple years ago, my co-worker and fellow book buddy gave me her idea for a character FB with our novels using the education friendly interface Edmodo. This book is that concept exactly. It is an easy and quick read and I highly recommend it for a good laugh. It will be on my classroom shelf ASAP.


  1. This looks like an interesting read. I'm in that 5-year age group (28-33) that remembers when the internet was kind of scary but also kind of cool (which means I don't over-share in appropriate photos or do the duckface, but I do recognize the importance on online marketing and social media). I might have to pick this one up!

    1. Oh the duckface! Ugh! It i's a really fast read, but funny every time you read it and when you pass it around and hear about others reading it for the first time!

  2. That looks like a really fun read. I'm due for one

    1. So was I and it proved just the kind of funny I needed.

  3. Jennine, great review. Soooo when are you doing a review for People Mag?

  4. Interesting! A few years ago, someone important (NYT? A historical society we know of? I can't remember) chronicled an important historical event as told through FB. . . Ugh, this would be such a better comment if I knew even some of the details!!!

    1. I would love to read that if you think of it!