As I lugged my Facebook up to my attic, I knew that some might criticize this expenditure of paper as an environmental waste. But I don’t see it that way. Since my Facebook activity stretched over 15 years, or 5,475 days, my double-sided printed record of it worked out to roughly one side of a piece of paper per day — not far from what I might’ve used if I had stuck with my old habit of scrapbooking. But when I thought of it that way, another insight became embarrassingly clear: I hadn’t just given Facebook a staggering amount of my data; I had given it a staggering amount of my time. Fifteen years of my life and probably enough hours of my attention to fill a few years worth of waking time.
I plunked my Facebook down next to my old collection of scrapbooks and diaries, whose bindings have become brittle with time. Compared with these homely, handwritten creations, my Facebook looked clean, orderly, modern, and grown-up. It was, for better or worse, the bulk of my life’s “papers,” my record of “Established Adult Life.” I felt some minor relief knowing that, if Facebook ever went under or if I decided to quit it for good, I would now have a hard copy of everything I’d posted there, at least up until June 15, 2019. But my old books beckoned, too, reminding me that I could always come back and tell them, in fuller confidence, what was really on my mind.