Looking back with Facebook's Timeline: Nostalgic or horrifying?

Looking back with Facebook's Timeline: Nostalgic or horrifying?

Summary: Taking a look down memory lane with Facebook's new Timeline feature might be full of surprises, both pleasant and unsettling at times.


If you're on Facebook, you've probably noticed the new Timeline format creep up on profile pages, whether it be your own and/or those of your friends.

After playing around with Timeline, I have mixed feelings about the new profile layout. I'm not alone here either as the topic of Timeline sprouted up at several holiday parties I attended over the weekend, with thoughts ranging from adoration and praise for Facebook's innovation to disdain at the thought of having to deal with yet another dramatic change on the social networking site.

Personally, I find Timeline to be yet another one of those love-it-or-hate-it items on Facebook. I'll start with why I find it troublesome.

First, Timeline puts all of your Facebook activity front-and-center with incredibly easy access to information from several years ago that I might not want in the spotlight now. Examples include silly status messages I forgot about and would no longer support now to photos where I'm wondering "Why on earth did I wear that?" Sometimes these items can just be downright horrifying that they are so much more public now than they were at the time when Facebook was limited to a much smaller pool of participants, such as when it was only available to college students.

Sure, these are photos that I'm still tagged in and probably don't care about untagging, but I don't necessarily want it so readily available for friends to see anymore.

But those are petty complaints. What is more worrisome is the activity log, which displays everything you've shared in an abbreviated but explicit form with whom you choose "from today back to when you first started using Facebook." Unfortunately, the default setting is "Allowed on Timeline" rather than letting users decide what to share first.

The good thing about the initial stages of Timeline is that once you opt in (although you can never go back) is you get seven days before you're forced to publish the entire layout. Thus, there is time to curate one's profile.

However, I learned quickly that I would have to set aside some serious time to do this as my personal Timeline goes back to 2005, the year after Facebook launched.

I did learn, actually to my delighted surprise, that the Timeline doesn't necessarily post everything you've actually done since 2004. Before 2010, the postings are broken down by yearly highlights -- at least on the front door of Timeline. Basically everything is available on the activity log, which is so overwhelming that it is unlikely anyone but yourself (or a dedicated stalker) is going to look through all of that text.

Nevertheless, while I was curating my Timeline before hitting the publish button, I did find myself a bit nostalgic at old posts with photos, links of I've shared, and, more recently, check-ins at various locations around the world.

I also do find the overall design of Timeline to be fairly attractive. There is a hint of too much clutter, and I do wish I could minimize certain items even further. But the cover photo at the top is an especially nice touch, and it really does convey the sense that the profile page is a news site just about you.

Love it or hate it (like almost any other change that happens on Facebook), get used to Timeline because soon every Facebook subscriber is going to be forced to adopt it.


Topic: Social Enterprise

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  • There is a very simple solution to all of this.

  • RE: Looking back with Facebook's Timeline: Nostalgic or horrifying?

    Wow, a blogging platform adding a feature that is common to every other blogging platform. Who would have thought?
  • RE: Looking back with Facebook's Timeline: Nostalgic or horrifying?

    you can always delete the old information. I don't have any posts at all in 2010
  • Mostly stylish ... though it's more work to keep up

    I think the new cover photos look great -- it makes the profiles a lot more personal & it's turning up some pretty cool options for photo sharing too; there are a lot of sites that have free cover photos to download (these were my favorite: https://www.facebook.com/freecoverphotos - lots of cool travel shots), and while it definitely takes more effort to maintain if you're concerned about privacy, people will most likely just get used to it.
  • RE: Looking back with Facebook's Timeline: Nostalgic or horrifying?

    Hate it. Too busy. Now I have to think about a cover photo and status photo. Too much to figure out for a tool that's just to have fun with. Its why I don't play games like WoW, etc. Too much like work. Fun should be easy.