I’ve been applying to a few internships lately and though I have made it so that my Facebook privacy settings remove me from public searches and directories, I feel like I can’t be too careful. I’ve had the same Facebook account since I was 14. Five years worth of information I may or may not remember posting or releasing is probably floating around by now without me really realizing it. I have lost interest in using Facebook lately (thanks, Twitter) but noticed that most of my friends have the new Timeline feature.
Aesthetically, I dislike how Timeline makes everyone’s page look a lot more disorganized than the previous Facebook format. It makes my barely-there netbook processor run extra slowly and picks out some really embarrassing/interesting information to display for every year. I felt some secondhand embarrassment reading through one particular timeline with way too many details of a summer vacation this particular person probably does not remember detailing since it all happened almost four years ago.
When I heard Facebook was going to force everyone to adopt to this new Timeline, I grumbled in disappointment. Just when I thought I could bury all my emotional status updates with more wall posts, photo uploads, and applications, I will probably end up scrolling through 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 in mild discomfort to see statuses and posts I once thought people cared about (but really don’t and were probably annoyed reading) highlighted in my Timeline. I guess I always have the option of deactivating my Facebook, but I want to keep it for sentimental value. This Timeline format, however, will probably make me feel more sentimental than I really want to feel about a social networking site and its unparalleled way of connecting people to each other.
The Timeline’s creativity lies in how a traditional timeline is usually on a long scroll of paper and usually sealed in a way that events and dates cannot be changed. With Facebook’s Timeline, you are free to delete and hide posts you do not want highlighted and also “unrolls” your personal Facebook Timeline as far as you want it to, even to the age before you were able to form words with letters in pre-school. It’s like going back in time to fill in the gaps of your life that you or your family weren’t able to document with pictures or a scrapbook. It most resembles a virtual scrapbook to me, and with the Internet being so vast this timeline seems both ephemeral and evanescent.
It’s the perfect way to stalk yourself instead of Facebook-stalking others. I know that when my Facebook is forced over into this new Timeline format, I will be scrolling through as much of my Timeline as I can to see how much things have changed in the past five years. I don’t even want to know how many wall posts and status updates I have made in the past five years because it might make me feel grossly unproductive. I think the Timeline feature of Facebook should remind us all that even if we forget what we’ve posted on the Internet, the Internet is not so forgetful. It might be to all our benefit to Facebook-stalk ourselves through the Timeline and delete anything that could be misconstrued as inappropriate–you never know who is Facebook-stalking you.