Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Facebook Timeline

It seems like every other month or so, Facebook rolls out some new layout or new option that is designed to make your experience on the social-networking site easier and more streamlined. For the most part, these new changes just serve to make people angry and set off a wave of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" status updates.

The most-recent breakthrough for Facebook came at the beginning of the year and seems to be fairly well-received by the jaded Facebook community. It is the "Timeline," and most seem to like it.

The timeline is what it basically says it is, a loose chronological history of your time on Facebook. Off to the side of your page is a list of years. If you click on, say, 2009, it will tell you the biggest things that happened to you then. You became friends with so-and-so, you posted that status about your fun vacation, you broke up with some guy, you uploaded those pictures from that one crazy night, etc...

People love nostalgia, the ability to reminisce on "the good old days," or what we perceive to be better times.

As of right now, the Facebook timeline is an optional feature. You have to turn it on yourself and set it up manually. Otherwise, you have the previous Facebook layout. I have not enacted the Facebook timeline. Why not? I've been on Facebook since 2005. That's quite a bit of history there.

I joined Facebook in October 2005, my sophomore year of college. At that point, Facebook was not the cultural phenomenon that it was to become years later, spawning books, a movie, and making creator Mark Zuckerburg a cultural icon. At that time, Facebook was something designed only for college students. Your college had to apply with Facebook to have a network set up, and you had to have a valid college email account to use it.

Back then, Facebook was just a profile picture, a wall, a friends list, and groups. There were no status updates, no photo albums, no "It's complicated" relationships, no Farmville, nothing exciting like that. It was used to network. I met new people at Concord and reconnected with old friends who were going to West Virginia University and Marshall.

I was actually one of the few back then who actually was on Facebook before MySpace. I created my Facebook account in October 2005 and didn't get on MySpace until December of 2005. Most started with MySpace in high school due to it being open to everybody, then got on Facebook in college, before eventually everybody abandoned MySpace after Facebook became open to everybody.

I utilized the crap out of Facebook. Once status updates became available, I was all over that. When relationship statuses popped up, I let everybody know about that. Photo albums came around sometime in 2006, and I chronicled my life in picture form from that point on. I had hundreds upon hundreds of friends. In short, I used Facebook to the max of its potential at that point.

Why wouldn't I want to utilize the timeline to reflect and show others?

If I enacted the timeline, it would say something to the effect of: "Chris Slater joined Facebook in 2009. He acquired a couple hundred friends right away. He posted a few pictures over the years. He only posts links to his blog in status updates. He began dating Candace Nelson in 2010."

What happened? I'm not 100 percent sure. My first blog post here, Welcome to my new home, kind of explains it a little bit. Since 2006, I utilized the blog feature on my MySpace account as a medium for journalism. I feel like I was a bit of a trendsetter in that regard. I wrote about a lot of things, mostly related to Concord University and its Student Government Association. 

At some point in early 2009, my email address was hacked or phished or something and my MySpace account was deleted. I feel like it was hacked, because usually phishing attempts aren't that malicious. I got everything sorted out and changed my passwords and created a new MySpace account. I was back in the swing of things, until one night I was in my dorm room (room 216 of Wooddell Hall), when I tried to log into my Facebook and was told my password was not correct. I went to my email and couldn't log in there either. I tried to get into MySpace again, but I couldn't.

"Not this again," I thought to myself. This time was a lot worse. The MySpace account was deleted again. But, the Facebook and Twitter were kept up and running under my name. Somebody was using my account and pretending to be me. My Facebook and Twitter profile pictures were replaced with a guy wearing a KKK mask. It was a rough couple days, trying to deal with that.

My online identity was something that I felt was so important to me. And it had been taken away. It took a couple days, but I got a new Facebook and Twitter up and running. At that point with Twitter, I only had something like a couple hundred tweets that were lost. Now I would have almost 30,000 that would be gone.

The Facebook account was different. A huge chunk of my life from 2005-onward was lost. Pictures, memories, everything, gone. I recreated one, but it wasn't really the same. If you go check out my Facebook right now, I really only use it to post links to my blog or post pictures in that "Progression" album of my hair over the years.

So, while the Facebook timeline is a cool deal and I could see a lot of people being really excited about it, all it does for me is remind me of what I used to have. My timeline isn't an honest representation of my life on Facebook, and as such, I don't want to utilize the feature. 

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