Picture this: you go away to an internet-free third world country – let’s say Mali – for a semester abroad. You come back to America and notice a few things have changed. Chipotle has never tasted more delicious, Lady Gaga is still terrifying and Facebook barely resembles Facebook. Sure your priorities are a little skewed if those are the first things you notice, but you can’t help but be fascinated by the little details. No, not Gaga’s latest outfit, but this ‘Timeline” thing on Facebook.
Facebook Timeline, soon to be known as just Facebook, chronicles everything you’ve done since first signing up for the world’s most popular social network. Don’t think it’s the most popular? Why else would David Fincher have named Facebook’s first film THE Social Network?
Embarrassing notes with emo, post-break-up poetry; that time you “liked” the Jonas Brothers for an entirety of one half of a fraction of a second; every single unnecessary and attention seeking status you’ve ever posted (“John Smith is: How is it fair that Pocahontas can see all the colors of the wind but I can’t even pass a color-blindness test? I am green with envy…or is it red? Blargh!”); even that awkward video you uploaded proclaiming your love for Sally in 10th grade – they’re all there. Get ready to cringe like a spider under the Cruciatus Curse upon reliving some of these moments.
Thankfully, Timeline only goes as far back to when you were born and fails to mention the Valentine’s Day in which you were conceived. Nonetheless, it’s still ridiculous — and a little eerie — that Facebook, originally a tool for staying in touch with friends while occasionally creeping on the cutie in math class, has now become a way of keeping tabs on people you rarely know while occasionally ‘”liking’ friends” statuses, just so they know you’re still around.
Fortunately for you, you’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed. Much like University of Massachusetts Amherst junior Eugenie Rabbani, who preferred “the simplicity” of the old Facebook, you and your peers had a lot to say about what some are calling a sex change for Facebook:
“I use Facebook so much to communicate with friends and share things. I like the ability to go back and find documents and quotes easily. If people are worried about Timeline, they can edit their profiles anyway. We could have accessed this information before, I think; now it's just easier to dig into the past. The only reason why you need to worry is if you have something to hide. Clean actions equal a clear conscience.”
–Brian Krouzek, University of Massachusetts Amherst
“Timeline is kind of creepy (as if Facebook isn’t creepy enough!). But, if you think about it, it’s not that bad because you can always hide certain statuses or photos or make them private.”
-Erika Di Michele, Concordia University
“I'm all for Timeline. Even though everything that you've ever done may be visible to everybody, if you play around with it, it's actually a lot easier to hide information from people, delete stories and still reference them for yourself for later. Sure, the change was confusing at first, but like all Facebook changes, we'll all be begging them to keep Timeline by the time Facebook is ready for more changes.”
-Chris Byer, W.T. Woodson
“I like that the cover allows us to personalize the page, creating a more unique experience. I just don’t see why it has to date so far back into the past.”
-Priscila Borba, Georgetown University
Photo: Craighton Miller at flickr.com