Facebook Timeline, ‘tell your story with a new kind of profile’ – Says Facebook. But what if you don’t want to?
The idea of sharing certain special times of your life is exciting and a good concept for a social media website. When Facebook Timeline was announced last year there was mixed feelings. Personally, I’m always excited for change on major websites, depending on how much I use it and what I use it for. I watched the teaser videos and previewed the layout. My personal opinion afterwards; okay. Simply, okay. Nothing fantastic and quite frankly I wasn’t as bothered as some of the other people blowing up about the news via their status and Twitter. “OMG, Timeline looks so sh*t, im leaving facebook when it changes”. The way I saw it at this point was “Hey, if I feel like adding where I went to school or met this person then I can, if I don’t then I’ll just carry on using Facebook how I always did”.
Like everybody I could switch to Timeline when I wanted from a certain point onwards. Being lazy and not really having any excitement to try it out I left it a while. A lot of people had the new layout by the time it came to my decision to change so at this point I had a few pros and cons already. Firstly the layout of the posts seems sloppy and all over the place, almost random. Images would look cut off. Old news stories out of the blue. I guess a pro was the cover-photo, for the people do did it right, at least, not the ones who uploaded a pixelated photo of them in a club with a beer, ugh.
I changed because I knew I had to at some point. There was next to no thought in doing so other than having a think about what kind of cover photo I’d like. I went with a NASA Hubble Telescope photo, I like space… Talking of space Timeline’s newsfeed was disgustingly busy, no space at all.
I viewed my profile and I was relatively happy with how my cover photo and ‘about me’ information was displayed but after that I didn’t really continue to consciously monitor much that happened on my layout and how it looked to other people. It was only when I flicked onto my profile to adjust a photo did I then see the years I’d been active on Facebook displayed on the right hand side. It started from ‘born’ then skipped to when I joined Facebook in 2007 and then every year onwards. Firstly I found the jump from being born to joining Facebook was funny. Funny and insulting, but how are they meant to know what you’ve done in the mean-time? Hey, some people’s life actually begins when they get Facebook, don’t you know!
I clicked ‘2007’ for nostalgia purpose. First few things were the obvious ‘Simon added whatshisface and 15 other people’ then the odd status about how Facebook ‘seems weird’, y’know, all the generic stuff that I’m sure everyone was writing at the time. There were also floods of people’s wall posts; remember when Facebook launched and for a good while you could only post on someone’s wall? There was no commenting on comments to create conversations. So in order to converse with someone you’d have to go to and from their wall to do so. This wasn’t a problem during 2007 because most of us had came from Myspace. Myspace had a similar way of wall posting. I don’t feel like Facebook had thought it through massively that if they were going to back date and display such old activity it would be presented in new format. It doesn’t work at all.
I searched through more and more of my old activity. Timeline will display a year and when clicked will show a summary of that year. The summary appears to be random, a few status updates, a few photos, maybe some people who have wrote on your wall. Now that this year has been clicked, it now displays a drop down menu of every month in that year. Click that month and every post is available to see.
I sieved though some of my posts and it really shown nothing of relevance. Even the nostalgia which wouldn’t mean anything to any observer anyway, had worn off… Plus, some things were a little embarrassing. My grammar was awful, I posted lame content and quite frankly, it made me realise how much I’d grown up.
Unfortunately we live in a time where Facebook is almost a personal CV for the person you are. It doesn’t matter what you use it for, business, relationships, friends, music, people will judge you on the content you display on your personal page. Because I realised this about 2 years ago, ever since I’ve kept things minimal, interesting and relevant to my life. I figured due to everything post-two years ago being unearthed, I would simply hide the years that I don’t care for people to see. After all, Facebook has some in-depth Privacy Settings.
So, on first glance I couldn’t find an option. I looked through all the typical places to find out how to do so but still no luck. I hadn’t really fussed over looking because I thought it’d be easy, as a lot of people will want to do this and I wouldn’t be the only one. After a longer look into Facebook’s privacy settings I still couldn’t find anything. I started Googling my question. Google had a lot of searches for this… And rightly so because there is no simple way of hiding this content.
Honestly, Facebook? No way? I was actually shocked. It was as simple as that, too. Facebook offered no way to hide this. There were a few DIY fixes to delete your past but quoted by the guy who made the tutorial of this method: “it took 3 days of solid deleting”. The method essentially is going into Facebook’s notifications log (which is every notification you’ve ever had on the website) and deleting every single one you don’t want. In my case, years.
Now, I don’t really have anything to hide. I can’t imagine what you’d have lingering in your digital past to need to spend 3 days on deleting it maybe an fling with a psycho girl that you don’t want your current girlfriend finding out about. And you can play around all day with saying “surely it’s easier just to delete your page and start again?”, but do we really need to, Facebook? Is our past on your website so necessary that the only real option is to delete our account and start again?
In the end I just surrendered, left my page as it was. I was only frustrated out of Facebook’s unwillingness to comply with something that was so desperately sought after. Joking aside, if I had something I really wanted to hide, embarrassing, non-representational, insulting, immature, I would be very upset and stressed out if I had to give in and accept there was nothing I would do. It feels like a digital representation of when someone finds that old embarrassing picture of you and shows it to the class, except this was the whole world. It does feel like bullying.
If someone has the right to make something public themselves, they should have the right to remove it. It’s as simple as that. Facebook needs to sort out this feature. The physiological strategy of having wonderful friends and family added on this website creates a nice atmosphere but in true light Facebook is not a nice website to be on anymore.