Facebook is a great way to interact with friends, family, and even complete strangers, but when using the social media network’s “Memories” feature, Facebook becomes something much more intimate: a digital diary.

Travis Naughton

Every time we write a status update, upload a photo or video, or share an article on Facebook, our thoughts and feelings are permanently recorded, just as they would have been back in the days when people still kept diaries and made scrapbooks. This shift seems appropriate in an age when more and more people prefer reading digital copies of books to their paper predecessors.

Call me old-fashioned, but I still prefer the look, feel, and smell of a well-loved, coffee-stained book. Nevertheless, the digital genie is out of the bottle, and I might as well learn to accept it, if not embrace it.

For the most part, I enjoy scrolling through my Facebook memories. It’s fun to see how little my kids looked just a few short years ago. Often, I am reminded of something funny that one of them did or said that I might have forgotten without Facebook’s help. In the ten years that have passed since I first joined the social network, thousands of entries have been added to my digital diary, most of which I am glad to review again and again.

The Internet, it has been said, never forgets. It’s been over a year and a half since I took my last drink of alcohol, but thanks to Facebook, I’m reminded almost every day of my addiction. When I scroll through old status updates, I cringe at how often drinking was mentioned. “Drinking a beer (or six) on the Party Porch tonight. Who will join me?” appears in my old posts so often that a person might think Facebook has an icon one could click to automatically update their status as such.

More troubling than the “drinking a beer (or six)” portion is the “who will join me?” part. This shows, of course, that I was drinking alone with alarming frequency. I regularly posted updates and shared photos on Facebook about alcohol for eight and a half years. In all that time, I don’t recall anyone ever leaving a comment or sending a private message that said, “Hey friend, do you think maybe you have a problem?” I find it interesting that whenever I post something to Facebook of a political nature, people have no qualms about letting me know how foolish I am, yet when it came to slowly drinking myself to death, I guess it was nobody else’s business.

Perhaps I’m being unfair. No one, besides me, knew just how much I was drinking back then. Recently, my dad, (who is also in recovery), said he wasn’t sure that I was ever REALLY an alcoholic, a sentiment echoed by various, well-meaning people during the last eighteen months. I don’t think it would serve anyone’s best interests to give a full rundown of my drinking resume, however if it will expedite my acceptance into the Society of Drunks, then I will offer this: Does drinking over half a gallon of gin per week—by myself—qualify me as “someone with a problem”?

I think it might actually be a good thing that Facebook reminds me, nearly every day, that alcohol played much too great a part in my life. Thankfully, along with those numerous mentions of booze, there are also many, many posts that pop up in my Facebook memories reminding me of how lucky I am to have a supportive wife, three beautiful children, and a host of great friends.

Hopefully Facebook will show me more and more posts like those, and the one below, in the future:

“Dear Diary/Facebook, it’s been 563 days since my last drink. It hasn’t been easy, especially in the age of Trump, but I’m doing okay. Better than okay, actually. I’m as healthy as I’ve been in years, my wife and kids are proud of me, and I’m happy—most of the time. There are days when the anxiety and self-doubt I’ve struggled with all my life start to overwhelm me, but I always manage to take back control from those dark forces without needing a drink. And that’s not nothing.”