I first saw Facebook in 2005, when it was only open to college students. There were a lot of college students in my social orbit (all of them coaster nerds, natch), and I thought, wow, this is a cool way to keep up with your friends. In September, 2006, it opened to everyone, and I signed up the first day. It took a couple of years, but my Gen-X friends and coworkers eventually got there. That was the beginning of the end of blogs and AOL Instant Messenger.
If you don't remember, Facebook was pretty simple back then. It had a feed of posts made by people that you were friends with, ranging from drive-by status updates to photos from some earlier event. There was no iPhone yet, so real-time attention whoring and over-sharing was still years away. Facebook didn't have groups or brands, it was just people that you knew. As someone with a very distributed social circle, the result of college, many jobs, moves, and hosting an original "social network" since 2000, Facebook was extremely useful.
You know how things changed in the intervening years, of course. The first serious problem was when they prioritized the algorithmic feed over your friends. When Facebook put engagement over your social circle, that was the beginning of the end. To say that it has played a role in fucking up our country is an understatement.
I've continued to use it largely as a journal. Few friends are still using it in a meaningful way. The export function could ultimately be useful to me as that journaling function. Still, mostly I've hung on this long to keep connected to others, but now that has largely been diminished. Then this week, their usual piss-poor quality practices made it even less useful. It stopped notifying you of replies and responses to your posts. Without those, there is no conversation. I've never used it for real-time notification (I limit that to text messages and personal email), but now there's nothing there beyond likes, which are not interesting to me. They're not even notifying you of birthdays anymore.
Maybe I need to follow through with making my own social network, even if I end up being the only one using it. At this rate, that's where Facebook will be in the grand scheme of things anyway.