2014 in Review, According to Facebook

YouTube may produce the end-of-year “Rewind” videos we look forward to the most — but they’re certainly not the only ones who do them. Facebook’s “Year in Review” video for 2014 looks back at all the things we talked about on social media this year, and it’s pretty much guaranteed to hit all your nostalgia buttons. I also find it kind of problematic, though. Here’s why.

Salon’s Erin Keane notes that this sentimental take on the year somewhat glosses over what actually happened. It is, she argues, “what Facebook looks like without actual Facebook users.” Although I’m not sure I’d go that far — the topics featured did all trend thanks to the site’s user database — but I do think she’s onto something when she calls the video out over its “simplistic portrayals of serious significant events.” Furthermore, much is absent entirely: Although the video gives a nod to Ferguson, it doesn’t cover Eric Garner. Lacking, too, are Gamergate and the Hobby Lobby decision. There is nothing about the increasingly troubling way many people view the word “feminist.” The Sochi Olympics are mentioned, but not any of the controversies surrounding them. The video presents a carefully edited version of the year, cleaned up and sanitized, meant to tug only at our sense of nostalgia, not to make us reflect on where we’ve been and where we might be headed in the future.

Although the video begins with a status update reading, “feeling nostalgic,” and ends with one reading, “feeling connected,” I feel these might be the phoniest elements of all. Maybe this is just me personally, but much of what has happened in 2014 — a lot of which isn’t featured in the video — does not make me feel either nostalgic or connected. Because so much of what I see is about people being divided, I feel less connected than ever, even though social media provides us with a constant window into what other people are thinking about… well, just about anything. We talk a lot, but we don’t necessarily listen.

The video is ultimately just a marketing tool — but I can’t help feeling like I want it to be more. Anyone else?

For the curious, here are a few of the topics the video does address; scroll down to watch the whole thing.

The Ice Bucket Challenge

The World Cup

Robin Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joan Rivers, and Maya Angelou


The Olympics

Malala’s Nobel Prize Win

Ferguson and Mike Brown

My Stealthy Freedom

The Ebola Outbreak

Watch the full video here:

Images: Facebook/Vimeo (8)