Facebook Timeline: Friend or Foe?

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With the new Facebook Timeline, you can upload a Cover image (this one is mine)

A few months ago, our social media team got wind that Facebook would be rolling out a new user interface, aptly titled “Timeline.”  When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg first unveiled the drastically new format, he likened it to a scrapbook of sorts. “Millions and millions of people have spent years curating the stories of their lives, and today there’s just no good way to share them,” Zuckerberg said.

The geek world panicked. What the heck was Mark Zuckerberg doing with our beloved Facebook pages? It would be even worse than your mom whipping out the old, embarrassing photo album and showing it to your new date.

The timeline concept itself isn’t entirely new when it comes to Facebook.  Zuckerberg has included the timeline feature in his master plan from the very beginning.  For those users who signed up in 2005 or early 2006 (back when it was still called “The Facebook”), you might remember the timeline application. You could input when you met people and how, list funny stories or events, or specify what courses you took with whom (and when).  If my memory serves me correctly, this is where people would input “flew to the moon with Sandy in March 2005” and “took Sexual Education with Sandy in April 2006.” Ah, those very mature college days that we’d all rather forget.

But, Facebook won’t let us.

Whether you like it or not, Facebook Timeline will be going live on December 23. If you’re wondering what the new Facebook will look like, or how to use it, eWeek provides a great slideshow highlighting the new changes.  For those who want to try it out before it launches, there’s an option to publish your Timeline now (Mark Zuckerberg already has, and apparently the story it tells isn’t the most interesting one).

I tried it ahead of time and here’s what I found:

It took awhile for me to adapt to the new changes, but it’s been growing on me. One of the most striking aspects of the new Timeline is its emphasis on visual elements. First, there’s a profile page header (called a “Cover”), which features an image of your choice. The new, two-column layout allows for larger featured images and the ability to read multiple posts (in chronological order, of course) at once. Once you understand how to navigate the new profile page by month and year, and understand the difference between “highlights,” “featured,” and “all posts,” it’s fairly simple to use.

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Timeline allows you to view updates by month and year

I gave myself one day to freak out about publishing all the embarrassing moments of my former college years. Then, I gave myself a night to re-visit the past six years of my life. I cringed, I laughed—a lot—and at moments, I even teared up.  Before me was my high school graduation trip to California, my mom’s wedding, the 2008 presidential election, my niece’s first moments in the world, the beginning of beautiful friendships, and the end of others.  There it all was—the good, the bad and the ugly, for everyone to see.  

And, I found that I’m okay with that. I may not be the same person I was in 2005, but who I was then helped to shape who I am now. Maybe I just now have the Facebook mentality of transparency, living my life like an open book. Or, Timeline.

I know one thing is true: Timeline is here to stay, and so is Facebook. Facebook has grouped years in the Timeline by decade. That’s right, I said decade. Can you imagine Facebook recording decades of your life 40-or-so-odd years from now? It could happen. It already has.

What are your thoughts on the new Facebook changes?

(Read this original post on the Author’s Lounge blog at: http://authorslounge.authorsxpress.com/2011/12/22/facebook-timeline-friend-or-foe/)

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