I ran into someone on Facebook the other day. Someone I hardly recognized. Someone from the past. That someone was Matt Simpson circa winter 2008.
Facebook recently unveiled its new layout for user profiles called Timeline. It’s pretty darn slick. The slickest feature is a menu of dates that lets users bounce quickly down the Timeline from recent posts to posts made in, say, winter 2008. Facebook’s algorithm initially sorts posts in a given year by importance until you drill down for a chronological view.
Now, a little back story. When I joined Facebook in winter 2008, I was not in a good place. Facebook reflects that. Some of my posts were angry jabs at the economy and Corporate America. Some were depressing lyrics from Pink Floyd, to whom I listened relentlessly as I tried to “figure things out”.
Of course, there was also joy. Facebook’s algorithm says my top story of 2008 was my engagement. The algorithm got it right. It was a special happening, despite its later dissolution.
When introducing Timeline, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “Our job is to make this profile the best way to share everything you want and the best way to express who you are.”
Therein lies the rub with Timeline. It looks awesome and it’s super addicting. But it’s not a better expression of who I am.
The Matt Simpson of winter 2008 is not me. Heck, the Matt Simpson of last Sunday is not me. It’s where and when I was. It’s not who I am.
Reviewing one’s Timeline is like standing before the snow-capped peaks of Mt Rainier and admiring printouts of the map that got you there.
Zuckerberg described the old Facebook profile as a place where old posts “just fall off a cliff” after a week or so. What’s wrong with that? A list of short-lived posts is a much better expression of a person than random events of their distant past.
Old stuff falls off a cliff. That’s life.
Identification with distant milestones is living in the past. Not to say we should never look back and smile. Let’s just not get confused about who we are.
I’m not the guy who struggled through the winter of 2008. Nor am I the guy who excitedly held newborn nephews and nieces twice since 2008 or who overcame his fear to leave the stability of Corporate America in fall 2009.
A better expression of me is the guy who recently announced he was spending Friday night reading Moby Dick at a coffee shop, posted a photo of butternut squash sprouting in his fall garden, and expressed his gratitude to Bulbstorm’s tireless developers for launching another great product.
Wanna know where I was? Check my Facebook profile when Timeline goes live to everyone in the next week or so.
Wanna know who I am? Keep your eyes on my updates as they enter your news feed.
Or, poke me and we’ll get a coffee.
I know many will disagree with me. That’s ok! Do you think Facebook Timeline is a better expression of you? Let’s discuss in the comments.