Before Facebook, there was Fridgebook

23 Dec

I remember when Facebook began because it was pioneered at just a few colleges and billed as a way to meet everyone else in your classes so you could exchange notes and study for exams.  My college was one of the few that Facebook chose.  You could only connect with people at your own college.

Eventually, on a very exciting day, you could connect with a few other people at other colleges.  I’m fairly certain Meredith Lennox Chase was my very first Facebook friend.

But this concept of pictures + college was not new to me.  Because my parents “invented” Fridgebook.

Fridgebook took up an entire side of our fridge.  It was a collage of pictures, mainly of the families of my parents’ college friends.  They went to Dartmouth.  They had a lot of friends.

Fridgebook was much more subtle than Facebook.  You didn’t count how many friends you had, you just cropped the pictures smaller and smaller so they would fit onto the two cork boards wedged between the beam and the fridge.  People “chose” their profile picture by sending it to my parents, usually in a Christmas card.  And then once a year, the Fridgebook was updated.  It was like a puzzle – trying to fit every face onto the boards. Old family photos were replaced by updated ones and if you ran out of space, you had to discard a very old, no longer updated photo of someone you hadn’t heard from in a long time. Sometimes, when I was in charge of reordering the photos, they got grouped by: relatives, local church friends, Dartmouth friends. I have always loved grouping and categorizing.

Status updates were not needed because my siblings and I created them.  Aside from relatives and church friends, the majority of the photos were of my parents’ friends and therefore our history with them was fairly limited.  We often didn’t know the kids names (ok, I knew every name and I hadn’t even met half of them) but we knew the important stuff: “That is a picture of the kid who peed on our trampoline.”  “That is the family who plays lots of bridge.”  “Remember when he was mean to us?”  “She babysat us that Saturday and let us read the special Troll book.”  The special Troll book was pretty grotesque which made us love it even more.

One of my little sisters really upped the Fridgebook capabilities when she invented the dislike button.  There was a picture of a family whose son, for whatever reason, she did not like.  I think we’d met him once on a summertime visit.  She, very carefully, used a pushpin to turn his eyes into little pinprick holes. It was a fairly bold, less than subtle way of letting us know that he had been officially unfriended.

Fridgebook still exists.  And it is much more entertaining than Facebook.  Even if pinprick boy is probably married by now and trampoline-wetting boy is in high school and probably no longer spraying down other people’s play equipment.  Probably.

 

 

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