Back in August, I wrote an article about Google+ and how its list of new features had the potential to take on Facebook as the next social media powerhouse. I championed the Circles feature of Google+ as the next great thing, as I don’t always like to share things with my entire Facebook friend list. Since that article, Facebook has rolled out a slew of fresh new changes which are aimed at holding onto its spot on top. And while Facebook did introduce its own version of Circles, they call “Lists,” I think they just won social media with the introduction of the new ‘Timeline feature.’
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the recent sentiment on the Internet has been that of general disfavor towards the new ‘Big Blue.’ Privacy issues, profiting from users personal information, or people just not wanting to hang out in the same place as their parents. Lately, I’ve felt like Facebook was doomed to suffer the same fate of its predecessors MySpace and Friendster. Up until now, there’s been a total lack of loyalty to social media platforms, with users jumping ship at the first sign of shiny new features.
Last week, after reading a few reviews on the new Facebook design, I decided to sign up for the developer program to get early access to the Timeline and check it out for myself. When I logged in for the first time, I immediately noticed the completely new look and feel of the Timeline vs the old Wall. This is definitely the best Facebook has ever looked. Scrolling through my digital life was a joy. But Facebook isnt’ just my digital life, it’s my real life, digitalized. Every photo from every memorable night out, every big life event, every conversation and debate, and every awesome link I’ve shared with friends, all right there and beautifully organized by date, framing little snapshots of my life. With Timelines, Facebook may have just ensured its army of users remain faithful for many years to come.
The hook was set deeper when I scrolled down my timeline and noticed a big grey empty box that read “Started Work at InMotion Hosting Inc May 2011.” Facebook automatically logged the day I changed my employment status on my profile. I couldn’t help but upload a photo as I wanted to mark the occasion. From there, I filled in a few other big life events like graduating High School, and moving to Hermosa Beach. I have to admit, after scrolling back to my first Facebook posts in 2008, I was a little disappointed that I hadn’t joined Facebook earlier so that I could go back farther in time. It’s like a scrapbook for people that would never put together a scrapbook. Facebook did what no other social media site had done before, they made an emotional connection with me.
Maybe I’m making a bigger deal out of this than it should be. After all, it’s really just the same information that’s always been on Facebook with a little clever rearranging and a fresh coat of paint. While that is true, it’s a coat of paint that will encourage everyone to keep using Facebook not just as a place to socialize, but as a place to reminisce. Some people will inevitably take issue with Facebook knowing even more about their lives. Imagine all the young Facebookers of tomorrow that will get to document each step of their entire lives? Is that even good? Is this level of sharing too much? Those are topics for another
discussion. Right now I’m still too distracted looking back at how awesome my Halloween 2009 was.