I printed a book of my Facebook timeline and didn’t totally hate it

Now that 2015 is dead and gone and anything that happened during said year will not affect you whatsoever from here on out, it’s time to consider how you’re going to memorialize it. A lot of people compile lists and favorite moments, but why put that much of an effort into it when you can just click a few buttons on that screen you’re always staring at and get some company (they’re always changing!) to print your Facebook timeline—the only place where anything of substance happens in our world.

Just think: If you’re like me and only post the most [fire emoji] content, then your Facebook footprint should be immortalized on paper. If you truly enjoy your ideas and your life and the dumb shit you choose to share with your “friends,” then there’s no reason you wouldn’t enjoy a compilation of that dumb shit printed onto pulp from trees that are rapidly disappearing.

I mean, just take a look at this objet d’art. Who will be the lucky beneficiary of my Facebook book once I have shed this mortal coil? Time to reconsider procreating, I guess!

Jené Gutierrez

The app/website I used for my 11-month printed Facebook immortalization is called My Social Book. You may have seen advertisements for it on… that’s right, Facebook. This particular ad is great because it appeals to the idea that printing your digital accounts is kind of stupid, then subverts that idea by saying, “Wait—it’s cool, though!”

Anyway, my book turned out 76 pages long, representing my Facebook life from January 2015 to November 2015, and it cost $40.90. This app lets you choose date ranges, pick your cover, and preview the entire book before you place the order. You can easily remove categories you don’t want to show up in your book and can decide whether or not to include comments. 

I didn’t want to think too much about mine because, frankly, there were too many options, so I just stuck with the default selections. I did deliberately choose the cover, as it’s probably my favorite profile pic/cover photo combination of all time, and I felt strongly that this combination should thrive beyond the digital realm—in solid, artifact form.

Jené Gutierrez

Jené Gutierrez

Jené Gutierrez

Jené Gutierrez

My Social Book organizes your timeline by three-month sections, with the most-liked item as the cover page for each section. (If the item is a photo, the photo weirdly does not appear, as you can see below.)

Jené Gutierrez

Links to media like videos show up with an adjacent QR code you can scan to access the content. Arguably the best thing to happen to Facebook in 2015 is GIF implementation, though this book did not include the GIFs I posted (or their QR codes, rather), something lamentable by any reasonable Internet user’s standards. For shame!

Jené Gutierrez

Jené Gutierrez

One thing I do fairly often on Facebook is post poetry. Why? Because poetry is cool, fuck you. When My Social Book prints status updates, they are not formatted to show line breaks, so these poems just end up looking like I’ve posted a fairly unhinged run-on sentence. 

To be honest, I found this kind of charming.

Jené Gutierrez

Jené Gutierrez

I was irritated by the fact that this book did not include links to any articles I posted over the year—whether it was something I or another person wrote. After reviewing my screenshots, though, I noticed I could have chosen to include links to articles, but I wasn’t paying enough attention. 

Here are the title and closing pages:

Jené Gutierrez

Jené Gutierrez

Your “most-liked” photo appears after the title pages, with instructions on where to find it within your printed timeline.

Jené Gutierrez

Jené Gutierrez

As you can see, if you decide to leave the comments in your book, the page gets a little cluttered, especially if Roseanne just retweeted some incredible illustrations you did of the Roseanne cast.

Admittedly, printing my Instagram feed (one of the options) sounds much more appealing than my Facebook feed, especially when this company can’t even format your textual Facebook posts correctly. But all in all, I didn’t hate my Facebook book with the fire of 6,000 suns like I thought I would. What is otherwise a laughable commodity is salvaged by the fact that I consistently share [fire emoji] content. 

Ultimately, this book is simply a different way of looking at something that has become so ubiquitous, you forget how absurd it can be—that you can share the banal and the profound and have conversations with essentially anyone just by friending or following them. This Facebook book is a reminder of what you present to the social world—proof that you do indeed exist, and not just as an online avatar. 

This sounds narcissistic, sure, but doesn’t it seem like we could use more people who know who the fuck they are so that they can give the best to themselves and the people around them? I mean, if this is what social media mediates, then we should have more hope for the future, right? Hope that the chaos of humanity won’t implode on itself in our lifetime because most of us are woke enough to not resort to fear and violence, having figured out our shit through introspection and our relationships with one another? 

I don’t know, but I think this is best-case scenario, and that’s good enough for me.

Photo by Jené Gutierrez

Jené Gutierrez

Jené Gutierrez

Jené Gutierrez is a reporter whose work focuses on feminism, politics, and internet culture.