“When it’s time to change, you’ve got to rearrange”
March 30 was the switchover deadline for the new Facebook Timeline format. Anticipating the cacophony of complaints that accompanies every Facebook release, I used my Timeline to see what people love or hate about the new design. Here’s a sample.
There were comments that were critical and brief:“Where is the ‘Unlike’ button for Timeline?” –Brian
There were comments that were critical and delivered on the back of an army of dead horses:“Dear Facebook, I feel compelled to provide you feedback on your ‘Timeline’ option. Simply put, it sucks. It is visually disturbing and creates a disjointed user experience. Perhaps most importantly, it is an INACCURATE description of what a timeline really conveys. If Steve Jobs were still alive and running your company, the lot of you would be shit-canned for this abomination on the senses. A timeline is a visual representation of time that flows chronologically from the past to the present. More importantly, one that flows along the X-axis of the screen. Since I recognize that most users’ experience will not benefit from a left-to-right scrolling paradigm, at least do not insult the Facebook community by forcing us to scroll up and down, left and right in an attempt to follow some sort of twisted chronology. If you are going to do that, call it ‘Escalators’ and NOT ‘Timeline.’ Science, bitches. Change the name or buy a textbook. Better yet, do both.” –Jay
There were comments from the middle-aged:“I like the fact that it took me an hour to try to remember all the crap I did the last 50 years, and that my whole life is now captured in the same space as people talking about Angry Birds and what Snooki wore. Makes it more meaningful somehow.” –Tom
…and the Middle Ages:“What new Timeline?” –Joan, senior citizen
Sorry, Mom, I know you were kidding and I know you know I’m kidding. One of my favorite comments was:“If the movie Back to the Future had a Timeline page, where would it start?” –Bryan
Not only is it funny, but it also accurately expresses how my Timeline looked after automatic conversion. According to Timeline, I was born, wore feety pajamas on Christmas morning, dressed as Superman for Halloween and drank Busch Light at a college kegger all in 2011. This is ridiculous! Anybody that knows me knows I stopped wearing feety pajamas in 2009.
Obviously these anachronisms occurred because Timeline captures scanned photos according to the date you posted them, not when they were taken. For you readers who are younger than me, there was once a time when pictures had to be developed on paper and we all looked as ugly as whatever was captured in the first snap, without an infinite number of retakes and retouches. For those readers whose vocabulary is not as advanced as mine, an anachronism is the fear of spiders. You’re welcome.
The date stamps can be fixed, which is great for making your Timeline more accurate, or for doing what Facebook users do best: lie. For example, you can eliminate your Members Only jacket phase, or even your entire history with that boyfriend who is currently “In A Relationship” with his cellmate. Or, if you took a snapshot during the Cubs game on a school day, Ferris Bueller, you can simply re-date it for the nearest Saturday. Make sure there’s a day game on the home schedule first.
By the time I get around to changing the dates on my pictures, I’ll be deader than MySpace. I understand, however, that there was no easy way around this for Facebook, and at least they gave us the option to revise the postings from our childhood.
Speaking of the days when I actually was a child, instead of just child-ish, one thing I hated about this Facebook update was trying to find the new Privacy settings. I grew up in an age where the stupid thing you just did didn’t end up on the Internet within minutes of you doing it. In fact, you had to wait for somebody to invent the Internet. At the very least, you had a little time for the gossip mill to start up, and for the story to grow into legend before finally festering into a monstrosity of an act that you may or may not have committed.
Today? Instant video evidence. God help the Millennials. A few of my friends – friends who probably have compromising photos of me somewhere – recently posted an article by Kate Conner titled Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls, which included some valuable advice about avoiding embarrassment on Facebook. I echo the advice, although the target audience almost certainly won’t take it. Like every generation before them, including mine, they will be too smart to listen and will have to make their own mistakes, albeit more publicly than we ever did.
The biggest thing about Timeline that sticks in my gut is that the feature might as well be called Waistline. Graphically, it’s a top-heavy rendering of every pound I’ve gained in my 40 years. The poor pictures at the bottom have turned from portraits to landscapes from being crushed by the pictures above. That’s about all I have to complain about so far, but we all know this won’t be the end of it. Consider this comment:“I love thinking about a moment six months in the future (not yet on my Timeline) when I see all the people whining about Timeline today, still using Timeline.” –Bryan
I can definitely see that comment coming true. Mark Zuckerberg and friends have survived all of their customers’ outcries so far, but if they’re not careful with their dramatic changes, generations from now the following comment won’t be sarcastic:“What’s Facebook?” –Sean
So now you know what I hate about the new Facebook Timeline. But what do I love?“Getting my friends to write my column for me. ‘Like.’” –Bill Zam