Facebook's new Timeline feature has created a huge stir. Some trumpet it as visionary, while others think it's the worst mistake the social networking company has made in its relatively short history. So which side is right? Read these opinions by two North by Northwestern writers and decide for yourself.
Anti-Timeline by Lizzie Kreitman
Joni Mitchell knows what’s up. “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone / They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Those beautiful lyrics aren't just for pity parties and environmentalists. Mitchell must have known when she wrote those words down that year after year Facebook would make irrevocable changes to its layouts, with some for the better and some for the worse. Timeline is for the worse.
The paradise of the profile has everything. The wall is easy to get to, pictures are easy to find but not always visible, friends are nearby without seeming weird.
Everything is close by but nothing is shouting out at you to be noticed. Basically, the profile is everything that Timeline is not.
Let’s start with the cover photo: a rather unnecessary addition that some people just use as a redundant second profile picture. The cover photo undermines and minimizes the real profile picture. What’s worse, though, is that some people use cover photos of graffiti, unknown bands or landscapes as a sure fire way to up their cultural irrelevance to the point where breathing might get to the point of too mainstream. Affluent, teenage girls with cover photos of city streets or indie triangles aren’t really telling me anything about who they are. It also distracts from the profile picture and crops the photo in a weird way. When a friend of mine had to change her cover photo to advertise for a club, instead of it saying “model search” it only read “del search.” Photos are important to Facebook, and Timeline really does users and their self-expression a disservice.
The Wall, where the majority of Facebook interaction occurs, is impossible to handle on Timeline. The first time I went to wish someone a happy birthday on their timeline I had to sit on their page for about a minute before I could even figure out where I was supposed to write. And the side-by-side wall posting is horribly confusing. Those tiny little dots are not enough to let you know when each post was written and can get extremely muddled when trying to understand a conversation. Photos and messages side-by-side provide for a distracting setting and make you feel so much creepier as you scroll down because if you’re trying to find a conversation, you’ll be trapped in their drunk Mobile Uploads as well. The pictures are huge and, even if you’re not trying to stalk, you are.
If the argument is about to be made that Timeline adds to the “scrapbook” aspect of the new layout, then you should be hard-pressed to deny that photo albums with dates are enough of a “scrapbook” for Facebook. If you want a scrapbook, then make a scrapbook! In addition, I recently heard a story in which an overly zealous user of Facebook Timeline made a “life event” of her first kiss. Somehow I don’t think information like that should be published anywhere, but especially on Timeline because it makes it so open and easy to get to. Everyone goes through those awkward years, and while it’s fun to reminisce about those days, it shouldn’t be as easy as it is on Timeline. Facebook should be about the present; Timeline is too much about the past. As we grow, so should Facebook.
To all of you who think criticizing Facebook remakes is for whiners and middle schoolers, think again. We’re not living in the past because we’re afraid of change. We’re holding tight to our profile because Timeline is inefficient. This isn’t a modernity versus antiquity thing; it’s a competent versus incompetent thing. When Facebook forces everyone into Timeline, obviously we’ll accept the change. But while we can, I think it’s important for us to stand strong with our profiles. Timeline will soon take over, but the Facebook traditionalists will always wistfully remember our beautiful stint with the old profile with pride. We will know that we stayed true to our profile and didn’t jump ship just when a new, shinier version came about.
Pro-Timeline by Kalyn Kahler
A wise man once said, “They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.”
Confucius must have known that Facebook would one day shock its devoted followers with dramatic changes as often as a PNM changes her outfit before a night of a rush. Maybe the ancient Chinese philosopher wasn’t thinking specifically about the extreme changes that have recently been occurring on Facebook when he first graciously gave mankind this piece of advice, but this trinket of wisdom has proved to be timeless.
Facebook Timeline startled Facebook users across the world, and much like salt and vinegar potato chips, you either love it or hate it. Those who hate the Timeline are simply afraid of change and scared of the unknown. The next time you ignore the “Get it Now” button to convert to Timeline, keep these reasons in mind and take a leap of faith.
Timeline is a virtual scrapbook without all the sticky, gluey mess. It allows you to go back to any year or month and look back at all of the highlights. Ever wonder what you did on Facebook in 2008? Not only can you reminisce on your hilarious awkward stages, but you can read your statuses and most popular wall posts from each month of that year. They don’t call it a Timeline for nothing; you can even add your own “life events”, such as taking a vacation, graduating high school, winning a championship or moving to a new place. You can even tag your friends if you’ve shared “life events” with them. That way you can all relive that amazing summer at camp.
The reason we use Facebook is to capture all of the great times we’ve had with our best friends. But the real reason we love posting anything and everything on Facebook is because we’re sharing it with all of our friends, essentially bragging about how great our lives are and proving our own popularity. Timeline makes it easier to collect all of those memories in a chronological, archived format, which allows users to show off even more and appear even more social and popular in an organized way. What’s not to love?
It’s not confusing. Seriously, if you’re whining because you can’t figure out how to send a message then you have bigger problems than being afraid of change. If it takes you 10 minutes to find the button to post a video, that’s probably a sign that you should take some time away from Facebook to build up your own lack of intellect.
Perhaps the most visually appealing benefit to the Timeline: the cover photo. The cover photo takes the profile picture to the next level. It presents each Facebook modernist with a true challenge: find the perfect image that captures the true essence of your soul. I am currently still searching for my cover photo soulmate, but when I find it, it will be magical. Before the Timeline, the growing number of hipsters had no opportunity to show off their artsy, edgy personalities. The really hipster Facebook users have cover photos of chandeliers, a cup of coffee, a brick wall, etc. If your spirit animal is the elephant, let all your Facebook friends know with an elephant cover photo. Ever had trouble deciding between two amazing pictures of yourself? With Timeline, you no longer have to decide! There’s so much to explore on Timeline, and the possibilities are endless.
There are two types of Facebook users: traditionalist and modernists. The modernists, myself included, were some of the first users to convert from the old, outdated profile to the fresh, current Timeline that is quickly taking over Facebook. The traditionalists are a stubborn group of people, content with living in the Medieval ages, unwilling to embrace the new technology. Facebook traditionalists, loyal to the profile, are like the Amish people, riding in horse and buggy carriages, while the modernists zip past in the latest model sports car.
The Facebook profile has become the grandfather figure to the Timeline, and those traditionalists who refuse to convert are like grandparents who refuse to listen to that “beboppin’ hippity hop” music, insisting instead on blaring the oldies tunes.
To all you traditionalists out there, listen to the words of Helen Keller: "When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us." Quit dwelling in the outdated Facebook profile, and embrace the wonderful changes that have been made. Please, Facebook Amish, shave your beards and convert to Timeline.