Last week, I had a former work colleague, who is now employed by Facebook, reach out to me concerning the site’s latest changes. Considering my underwhelming and mostly negative response, this person quickly refuted that Facebook is in the process of making additional changes to enhance their user experience and appease any initial dissatisfaction. According to this colleague, social media buffs, and Mark Zuckerberg himself, Facebook is officially done with these flimsy ‘botox injections,’ and has now opted to go under the knife for a full-fledged facelift. No more Kardashian-style maintenance for FB- they’re going all out Heidi Montag.
According to Mark Zuckerberg in his announcement at the company’s f8 developer conference, Facebook will soon be adding a Timeline feature to their site. This Timeline turns your profile from a single column rant of friends’ misspelled musings and plastic-red-cup cropped pictures into a two column storybook of your
entire real social media life. Seriously. The social media mavens from Mashable have summarized the much anticipated dreaded changes in a few quick bullets (found here):
1. You’re going to get a Timeline — a scrapbook of your life.
2. You don’t have to just ‘Like’ something — now you can [verb] any [noun].
3. Facebook apps need only ask permission once to share stories on your behalf.
4. All “lightweight” information is going to the Ticker.
5. You can watch TV and movies, listen to music, and read news with your friends — all within Facebook.
Now before anyone thinks that I’m wearing my ‘Negative Nancy Pants’ today, let me say a few things to preface this rant: I like Facebook- kinda. I do. I really do. As an early adopter since July 2005, I’ve seen the social medium meander from it’s awkward childhood years to it’s current state. Over the years, I’ve watched with tearful eyes and begrudging gaze as the innocent “girl next door” became the “hot babe of the block.”
I remember FB when it had some standards. You had to wine and dine this dame with a college email address and could only share pseudo-intimate information with a few, select friends. I pledged my allegiance and unabashed love to FB daily during my freshman year of college. I was there in the trenches before status updates, high-schoolers, parents (and their awkward and overzealous friends), profile tabs, applications, the ‘Like’ button, and the NewsFeed. I was a member of “TheFacebook.com” for bloody sake! But behold, the lady is now a tramp.
As the site has ‘evolved’ so has my apprehension and distaste. And I find my list of reasons to limit my Facebook loitering to be expanding exponentially thanks to these recent announcements. Here’s a
brief summary of my grievances that have only been exploited with this pending development.
1. It’s the Internet-
Facebook is driven entirely by the content added by its users. Meaning- the more content you share, the more Mark Zuckerberg lines his already portly pockets. And while I don’t have anything against sharing content with the general public (obviously- as I blog from my ‘Soapbox of Judgement’), let’s not forget one small thing here: IT’S THE INTERNET! When you upload content to the Internet, you have no way of controlling EXACTLY how far your information will travel. The Internet was created with the premise that information can go anywhere, instantly!
You don’t know how many times your Facebook content appeared on someone’s feed as a ‘Top Story’- or how many of your friends took time to click through your 192 photo album chronicling your pet turtle’s funeral service and interment. You know not the number of caring souls who read your note dedicated to social reform, or browsed your event invitation dedicated to advancing the “Fight Against Sobriety.” Unless of course, people voluntarily leave some trace of a “Like” or comment. You don’t know exactly whose eyes will fall on what you share. To put it simply- Facebook is every stalkers delight. If you’re naive enough to think that Privacy Settings really stop a man/woman on a mission, dream on!
Just when you thought you couldn’t share anymore with the collection of strangers from distant lands known as the ‘Internet,’ Mark Z and his grubby little pockets want MORE? How much more exactly? Your entire life. How convenient and thoughtful of them! The new Facebook layout wants your entire life story. Baby pictures. Childhood memories. Every location you’ve ever lived. Ever concert you’ve ever attended. What you watch. What you read. What you listen to. Your whole life. On the Internet. Now, before you think no one cares enough to find that information fascinating, let me caution your skepticism. Everyone has been Facebook stalked. Conversely, everyone has gone on a Facebook stalking recon mission of their own. Every girlfriend in the known free world has stalked an ex. Not only that, every woman in the world has searched Facebook for her current/future/imaginary lover’s ex. Every girl. And gents, before you break up with your lady for being a stalker, any woman that denies this fact is a liar and cannot be trusted.
Think about it. What’s the first thing you do before you meet a new person? Search for them on Facebook! New employees. Potential employers. Roommates. Colleagues. Mentors. Musicians. Interns. Classmates. Dates. Everyone. So what they have privacy settings? More times than not, if you’re focused and FB savvy, you can circumvent what loopholes you need to get enough information. And this new ‘Facebook Timeline’ is just an open invitation for the creepery to continue.
2. Facebook ‘Friends’-
Let’s define this thing called ‘friendship,’ shall we? What exactly constitutes a Facebook friend? Is this someone you know personally? How personally? How friendly does one need to be to petition for Facebook friendship? I’ll be completely honest. I have over 1400 Facebook friends and I couldn’t list the full names of 400 people if my life depended on it. But we’re ‘friends’ nonetheless. We went to elementary school, or rode the same bus in middle school, or sold GirlScout Thin Mint cookies that one summer in third grade. Maybe I sat behind you in band in high school or we had that one class together that one semester that I don’t remember. I mean- my Facebook friends’ list is a shabby compilation of brief life moments that I shared with people- most of whom I’ve probably never exchanged audible words with. To me, accepting a FB Request is more so saying ‘We’re not completely strangers,” rather than “Hey, we’re actually friends!” It’s like a casual, and ever-so-slight head nod to say “Yeah, I think I’ve seen your face sometime in my life.”
Obviously, the more content that we were encouraged to share, the more I used discretion on accepting Friend Requests- particularly when the ‘Download’ and ‘Share’ features became available. But still. You can’t keep everyone out. I guarantee everyone has at least 67.4 courtesy Facebook friends that weaseled their way into acceptance either because they share an alma mater or enough mutual friends. Are you really going to decline the FB request from someone with 432 mutual friends? We’ve bound to have walked the same patch of dirt sometime in our lives, right? How do I muster the courage to say ‘not now.’
I’ve said all that to say this: whom are you really sharing all these new and improved scrapbook developments with? Are these people you’re genuinely, sincerely, and completely friends with? Really? Do you know who I catch up with on Facebook? People I don’t catch up with in real life. My closest Facebook friends aren’t really my closest friends. The people’s walls I frequent the most are probably the people I text the least. You know why? Because if you’re my REAL friend- I don’t need Facebook. I’m going to call you. Or text you. Or hang out at your house. You don’t need to see my baby pictures or childhood humiliations. You know why? Because if you’re my real friend, you know the four-eyed, girthy, childhood version of me, with the two bucked front teeth, is buried quietly in the dark recesses of my brain for the sake of my dignity.
3. It’s not real life-
Facebook is pushing the ideology that it wants to become even more intrusive, eh- I mean intimate. They are so graciously giving you an opportunity to show your true personality to the Facebook community. This is the chance you’ve always wanted! Just imagine: a
private collection of everything you’ve ever done in life for only your nearest friends to see. Why should the World Wide Web deter you from reaching your true happiness? I mean how would you ever possibly remember the intimate details and moments of your life if FB wasn’t there to hold them for you? Thank you, Mark Z. I hope these recent site developments expedite your petition for Sainthood!
After all, Facebook is giving the people what we want. We want to share, and reshare, and overshare until we’re all blue in the face. But, before you worry about being inundated with crap you don’t really care about- Facebook has promised to keep all the small stuff secured in the Ticker! Only relevant and pertinent information from here on out, right?
Wrong. I don’t need Facebook to show my personality. The truth is- if you want to know me, there’s nothing my Facebook page can do to facilitate that process. No matter how much I overshare. Currently, the only thing listed on my FB profile is my birthdate and my relationship status. I keep my relationship open to keep the ‘Ay Bay Bay’s away and my birthday posted because no one would remember otherwise, and well- I really enjoy birthday wishes. (Yes, I know. I’m shallow. Whatever.) I don’t share my current location, school, work, hometown, interests, music- none of that crap. You know why? Because if you want to know any of those details- you can reach out to me personally, and I’ll tell you.
I had a heated argument with a friend recently who asked why I don’t share more details. She asked what am I going to do if I ever get pregnant, or engaged, or have some other awesome life changing event! How can I experience life without the constant reassurance and adulation of Facebook ‘Likes.’ And I told her the same thing I’m telling each of you: I don’t need Facebook to dispense details of my life on my behalf. When I get engaged, guess what? I’m calling my friends! (Or berating them at their doorstep with the ring if they live close enough)! I’m sending hand-written PAPER announcements. (Pause for dramatic effect) And when there’s a bun baking in my oven someday, a long time from now, you wanna know how I’m going to tell my nearest and dearest I’m knocked up? Invite them over to my house and tell them in person! And then of course send hand-written PAPER announcements!
The point is- Facebook isn’t real life. No matter how much information you disseminate to the masses, nothing will ever compare to getting to know the real you- not the FB Timeline Scrapbook version of you. If you want to share your life so bad- share your life with the people who actually help you live it. Pick up the phone and call your grandmother. Text your bestfriend. Skype your former roommate. Have lunch with your girlfriends. The day my entire real life can fit into a two-column screen hosted by Facebook is the day I know I’m not really living. And my friends, if you too find yourself in that predicament following the Facebook Apocalypse, I invite you to log out, get off your keister, and go have an adventure. A real one.