As a social media strategist and addict, it is my job to be an early adopter of new features and networks. This is why last week, I tricked Facebook into thinking I was a developer (thanks to this TechCrunch article) and enabled the new Facebook timelines (due to go live Oct. 3rd). I wasn’t excited about doing this because I’ve read all about it, and I already saw where this could be a problem. However, I was curious to see what they looked like and I decided to jump in feet first.
When my Facebook page refreshed and the new timeline was in my face, I made a loud “UGGGGHHHH!!!!!” sound. I hated it. I had to readjust my eyes. It was so wide (and I had to come up with a nice cover picture). Fine! I did it.
Then I scrolled down. I looked to the right of the page and saw all my years on Facebook listed. I’ve been on there since July 2004, 5 months after it was created. We have history. The 19-year-old me set up that account, and now at almost 27, I was partly afraid of what was waiting for me when I clicked “2005.”
I started looking back at old posts and I saw the goofy chain wall posts that friends put on my wall way back when. I saw old pictures I had almost forgotten about. In 2009, I only made 4 new friends (I wondered why). I saw that one year, 173 people wished me a happy birthday. Then… I saw a milestone that said, “started work at AwesomelyLuvvie.com” from Aug 2006. LAWD! THAT is the moment that the power of this new Facebook hit me.
These Facebook timelines tell the whole story of our lives. The mundane and the important are there for us all to see. They paint a picture of our accomplishments (graduations), failures (broken relationships), joys, pain…everything. Facebook was life’s electronic scrapbook. I see. And that is powerful.
It also hit me that as Facebook told me my story so well, it was also potentially telling others. Well, not potentially. Friends of mine can also go down my timeline and see the last 7 years of my life in print. And that bothered me. It’s not because I have such personal information on there. I’ve always been a very private person. I’m one of the ones who you won’t see a relationship status for on my timeline. Ever. Yet and still, I still felt a bit exposed to the world.
While there was joy in reminiscing about the 19-year-old me, the fact that 1,500 of my closest friends/family/acquaintances/online buddies could also see what people wrote to me on May 2007 with one click made me uncomfortable. Timelines feel so personal and intimate. I felt like I was looking at an album that I found under my Granny’s coffee table.
But having the intimate moments of your life on display has a downside.
The amount of access that others have to our past memories and the ease to which they will have it is a problem. (Dear Stalkers everywhere, your job has never been easier, thanks to Facebook timelines. Merry Christmas from Mark Zuckerberg.)
I kid, however, random people can figure out information about those who are closest to us, our habits and routines with one or two clicks. Potential partners can find out about our last heartbreak, even if it happened back in 2008. Our parents can scroll to our college years to see what we were really up to (I hope no one has proof of their walk(s) of shame. This could be trouble.).
I think Facebook timelines should exist, but be separate from one’s regular profile page. It should be its own website where folks can go to see their own scrapbooks. It should NOT be the way folks view profiles, and I feel strongly about this.
Am I going to quit Facebook because of it? No. I’m not even going to tell the lie that I will. Quitting Facebook is much more than quitting a website. It deletes my lifeline to a lot of people I want to have contact with. I won’t quit Facebook but more than before, I’ll disengage and not share too much on there. But I must say, reminiscing about college on my timeline brought back some good memories.
Facebook Timelines is amazing for personal reflection, but it’s a privacy advocate’s worst nightmare and a stalker’s wet dream.
Will you be switching to Facebook’s timeline? What do you think of all the changes on Facebook?
On the Racial & Gender Implications of Facebook’s Timelines [New Model Minority]