Most of Facebook is a cesspool, filled with conspiracy theories, pyramid schemes, and baby photos posted by someone you think you probably went to high school with, or maybe you used to work together, but whatever, it’s mostly garbage. Enter the only wholesome social Facebook group on the planet, “View from my window”: a butt-free zone with moderate pet content where 1.8 million people are checking in to briefly say hello. Users are allowed one photo of the view outside their window. Thousands of commenters check in with lightning speed to say “Hello from [location].” That’s it.
Your location is exciting information now!! “Hello from Iowa USA!” a typical comment reads. “California,” one passerby chimes in, under a photo of an immaculate neighbourhood garden in bloom, in Erpolzheim, Germany. “So happy you have joined, this is the most amazing group ever!” a member remarks of some garden-variety squirrels in a Pennsylvania yard. There is no shame in your game, whether it’s a concrete wall in Australia, New Jersey’s industrial plains, snow-dusted Vermont evergreens, a Moroccan gorge, or the Colosseum. A person from Hong Kong states, “I live in a very small apartment. There is no beautiful view.” Another from Stamford, Connecticut, posts, “I always count my blessings!” on a photo of a backyard parking lot. Various people who say they are medical professionals are posting views from hotel room windows in New York City, where they say they have come to fight the pandemic. Unlike Instagram, “Ciao from Italy” is no longer an invitation to bang; it is literally “Hello, I am currently in Italy.” Comments can roll in at the astounding rate of 5,000 per hour.
The group’s founder, Amsterdam-based graphic designer Barbara Duriau, tells Gizmodo that after a few days, “the amount of work involved had gone crazy!” She enlisted the help of 24 other people, mostly women from Belgium and Texas, who now sift through hundreds or thousands of photos per day to make sure they adhere to the rules. (They plan to use the photos for a book, calendar, and exhibition, eventually; by posting, users give up their image rights.) The rules demonstrate excellent foresight, forbidding social media promotions, recognisable people, and excess focus on interior design.
There is a clear-but-unspoken temporary global ban on mint juleps on the villa balcony. “No feet up,” the page states, explicitly, adding, “It’s NOT a competition of the most beautiful landscape, your animal, breakfast/aperitif/drink views.”
The page has its fair share of villa-dwellers, but Duriau prefers the stories behind sights like a train over a construction site in Poland or a couple of trash bins from a basement in Seattle.
Peace is non-negotiable on “View from my window.” They’ve had to disable comments on posts from Israel and Palestine before hate speech becomes, as Duriau says, “impossible to manage.” (“We notice that Israel’s posts and photos receive hateful or inappropriate comments,” Duriau posted on April 18. “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has no place in this group.”) Trump flare-ups come and go.
I don’t care if they’re all fake, like the dolphins of Venice. They’re pure expressions of joy and solidarity, and we need that right now.