2.12.2012

I'm Fine with Timeline



Well, I've gone and done it: I switched over to Facebook Timeline. In addition to a more visually appealing interface, Facebook Timeline is a fascinating way to present yourself to your social media friends and to the outside world. Your most recent random musings are de-emphasized in favor of a broader sweep of the totality of your life, stretching all the way back to your birth year.

I haven't gone back and filled in photos and facts from the past year, choosing to let Facebook populate my page with things I've already posted. But I'm sure others have taken the time to carefully curate their onscreen presence with all sorts of autobiographical snippets. And why not: if you can create an online persona with your current photos and statuses, you can cultivate an even more textured description of yourself by introducing time as a dimension, and offering your viewers the highlights of your life over the years.

One of the lovely quirks of Facebook is the way it serves to reconnect people. For example, I have had more contact with many of my high school classmates in the past two years, since everyone joined Facebook, then I had in the previous 18 years combined (and I haven't really even been trying, either). Allowing us to reach back to past years provides even more potential contact points for far-flung friends, family, and acquaintances to reminisce: about that crazy perm you had when you were 10, about the hellish job you had three careers ago, or about that singing group you were part of so many years ago.

While Facebook itself is fun to interact with, I prefer to see it as a tool for something more important, which is to interact with others. And in that regard, I think Facebook Timeline is a step forward. Now if I can just find those baby pictures of myself during that really brief period of time when I was actually cute . . .
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