[Original Version of Article Written For, and Posted On, NYPRESS.COM]
New Facebook Timeline Asks: Who Is You?
By Carib Guerra
Our lives will never be the same. Starting…yesterday. Or, at least, how we remember them won’t be. Since 2006, or 2003 for a few Harvard alums, we’ve been posting everything from that great breakfast to the birth of our first child on Facebook.com. For half a decade our collected memories have had their 15 minutes of likes, comments, and shares, and then quietly slid into…well, our memories.
With the official ‘dark launch’ of Facebook’s new Timeline feature, all those old moments are coming back quicker than you can say ‘forgot-I-had-psychogenic-amnesia’. Also, they look great. Maybe not the moments themselves, but Timeline is very pretty. With a flick of your finger the years scroll by from ‘Now’, where you’ll see the usual profile items in cozy new arrangements, all the way back to ‘Born’. Of course since Facebook didn’t exist when most of us were born, the moments get a little sparse if you move below 2006. But for all of the millennial kids whose parents created their profiles before they threw the baby showers, this is their life.
For those of you who haven’t activated your own Timeline, heads up. You might be thinking that this will be an annoying, but ignorable, addition like that mandatory ticker/chatlist (which you can now hide btw). Or did you imagine a simple face[book]lift like the last profile update? Either way, it is not that simple.
Facebook has not stated a date for when/if Timeline will become a mandatory feature. As of now, once you decide to opt in and activate Timeline, you’ll have seven days to mess with it before it automatically goes public. Granted, it’s a lot more fun to set up than the old forms and buttons. But that’s just one week to pore over every tidbit of digital action on your wall since—whenever. You’ll see one night stands. You’ll see your ex in pictures where you’re happy together. You’ll read status updates that make you sound dumber than you are now (my own status, 10 Aug 09: “Who needs to stand on a platform to shoot a slingshot anyhow? It’s going to do exactly the same thing from the ground.” #algebra #publicshame), and—unlike before, when seeing all of this stuff took clicking buttons, getting way too drunk, and putting on the Marvin Gaye Here, My Dear Pandora mix—it’s all right in front of your eyes. And it’s designed by people who know how to make things look like you want to look at them.
I’m half thankful now for years of moderate Facebooking. Half, the good half, because I have relatively little content to sift through while choosing what to delete, what to keep, and who gets to see the finished me. The other half is that I did a lot of stuff in the past five years! When it’s all laid out and organized I feel a sick urge to fill in the blanks. I find myself thinking about scrap books and photo albums that I’ll finally do my mother the favor of scanning in just to fill that pre 2006 abyss. You’ll see what I mean.
Don’t spend too long weighing the pros and cons of your new Timeline. Here’s the deal: You could go through on a delete rampage, redacting your life, removing moments that maybe you shared with somebody else who’ll now be hurt when they realize you’re too cool to remember that time with them. Or, and this will be my angle on it, you can go through your friends list and think real hard about who you want having the peep show of your life. I bet you won’t even have to break a brain sweat. Chances are, if their smiling faces don’t pop up here and there in your Timeline, you probably don’t even know them.
What do you think about #Facebook #Timeline? Let me know @44carib and @N_Ypress.