Facebook Timeline and Social Convention

After a long, school-induced hiatus, I’m back, and ready to blog. In 2012, I’m planning on making this blog more of a priority, and I’ve reduced some of my other commitments to make that happen. Look forward to some more regular updates, starting with this one. Happy New Year!

Facebook Timeline has caused quite the stir in the social media community and among the 800 million or so active users. Timeline is polarizing, and based on anecdotal evidence, most of my friends are not happy with the changes. Sound familiar? Almost every change Facebook makes follows this pattern, for better or for worse. Remember when the News Feed first came out? Or the last time Facebook redesigned profiles? We had similar gripes.

facebook timeline

Another reason for Facebook users to feel entitled...

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are truly relentless in their efforts to change the way that we interact with one another online, and I think that Timeline has the potential to change our social interactions. Any type of social change requires time to occur. Just as it took time for text messages to take the place of some phone calls, it will take time to see the true effects of Facebook Timeline. For now, I can only speak to my primary thoughts as I’ve played with it over the short time that it has been generally available.

Traditionally, when you meet someone, you learn about their current activity first. As you become closer and get to know one another better, you learn more about their past. Individually, we each choose when to disclose certain information about ourselves. With Facebook Timeline, that past information is immediately accessible and in some ways, is more descriptive and demonstrative than a mere description of prior interests, motivations, and passions.

For example, in high school, I was very involved with the theater department. This is not always information I immediately volunteer to my friends, mostly because it isn’t particularly indicative of my current interests. Using Facebook Timeline, however, one could easily look through and discern my involvement. Now I don’t think there’s an inherent problem here, but I do have to wonder what this will mean for social interactions. Are we now expected to know information about our friends’ history, even from before we met them?

Does Facebook Timeline create new social expectations?

Only time will tell.


2 Comments on “Facebook Timeline and Social Convention”

  1. There’s no like button, so I can’t pretend this is facebook and like it.

    Heh, I’m torn with Timeline on cute scrapbook and uber creepy. Also, I dearly hope it doesn’t turn into a ‘know all of your friend’s history better than your parents’ history’ kind of thing.

    • Madeline says:

      What’s weird about it is that you suddenly have access to information that your current self may not want to be public. Particularly if you haven’t made sure to check what you’ve posted before making Timeline public.

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