As 2016 comes to a close, many people will countdown the seconds until midnight with friends and family. For some it will be a party, for others, it will be a burial—but they’ll have their loved ones close to experience it together. But many people will be alone, and Facebook has just the thing to bring some New Year cheer to those sadly staring at their news feed.
Today and tomorrow, Facebook will play a little fireworks animation when you tap on a trigger phrase like, “Happy New Year!” Engadget seems to imply there are other trigger phrases as well but no others are mentioned specifically. We tried it out and can confirm that typing “Happy New Year!” results in blue, clickable text. Fireworks appear that look like this:
For people who can’t be with their loved ones, this might be a fun distraction that makes it feel like they are with the friends who are posting photos from various locations of celebration. But it genuinely feels kind of melancholy in action. No sound is heard, just a quick little burst of color appears. That’s about as exciting as those plastic party poppers that are supposed to shoot streamers but just end up plopping out a ball of wadded up tissue paper.
There’s nothing wrong with this modest Easter egg. Hopefully, everyone finds it delightful and moves on with their lives. For me, it just feels like a reminder of all the ways that Facebook wants to creep into my life and replace various important IRL experiences.
What started as “a place for friends,” became a place for family too; then, a place for fake friends; then, a place for news; then, a place for fake news and on and on. Now, it’s a place for New Year’s Eve. Pew pew, fireworks. God knows what the future of social networking will look like if Zuckerberg and Oculus can actually make virtual reality a mainstream thing.
By all means, click the blue text at midnight tonight and watch the fireworks. And maybe look up from the phone after and make a resolution to spend less time on Facebook this year.