Ready or Not, your facebook Timeline is going public

I knew that facebook’s Timeline would become mandatory.

But I didn’t know when.  That’s finally been answered: it’s already happening.

Until now, users have had the option of converting to Timeline format, or keeping the comparatively simple format.

Although there are myriad reasons I’ve opted out of facebook, this mandatory format change was the one that galvanized me into action.

When I began my facebook account in 2007, I never anticipated that one day, it would all become public information. Right now, it’s limited to the people on your friends list. But facebook privacy controls fluctuate constantly. Keeping on top of them is like a part-time job.

I didn’t want my entire facebook history published, available for perusal.

Apparently, I’m not alone.

More than that, I resented that to remain on facebook, I would be forced to edit my Timeline. Which would be heavily time-consuming.

You have seven days to prepare– by going on a deleting spree. Then you have to choose pictures to be your “cover” and design your profile like a yearbook layout.

You see how many things you posted that served no purpose. How many times you logged on each day.

Every day. For your entire facebook “life.”

After reading through my own Timeline, I realized that it wasn’t even a sufficient representation of me. Looking at it, I would never guess that I have journalism degree, or am capable of writing a newspaper column.

I shared nostalgic ’80s music videos. I polled my facebook friends: should I cut my hair? I posted things to my wall that were inside jokes with friends, sometimes direct quotes for our amusement.  Sometimes I posted links to news articles that sparked lively debates, which I enjoyed. There was some great commentary on world news.

But largely? The content and interactions on my wall were pretty banal.

Not to mention that my Timeline was a bit like I had become my own paparazzi. I got to re-live break-ups, remember friends I’ve added and long since deleted. See things friends had posted on my wall that might have been hilarious four years ago, but aren’t now.

Five years ago, I only had friends my age on my friends list. By 2011, I had accumulated previous professors,  previous supervisors and co-workers, friends’ parents, family, and a variety of other people from vastly disparate aspects of my life.

Do they all need to see what I posted five years ago? No.

I can see how this is beneficial to celebrities, photographers, and people who are retired. It’s a great visual archive of their work, their achievements, or their everyday adventures.

But for the average user? It’s just unnecessary.

When it comes to Timeline, I’m like Bartleby, the Scrivener: “I would prefer not to.”

I lost the battle here. People saw my Timeline. But there’s not much left to delete at this point. Initially I was going to individually delete all my friends and then systematically delete my entire Timeline as well– so there would literally be nothing left of my profile.

But it’s dull work, and I want to be done with it. Five years of status updates, photos, and banter between friends is a lot to delete. I don’t have the patience for that anymore, honestly.

I got bored with deleting people, so stopped for awhile. Some are difficult to delete, because I know they’re true acquaintances: this is the end of the road. Once I delete them and cancel my account, it’ll be “facebook official”– our connection will be over without social media.

I’ll miss these people. But at some point, one or both of us dropped the ball on maintaining our contact– or we never developed it in the first place. For whatever reason: distance, lack of time, or lack of relevancy to our current lives, we interacted less and less.  And even if we intended to “keep in touch” beyond facebook, most of us won’t.

That’s life. The whole point of of adding each other on facebook was to “keep in touch,” but many of us just occupy space on a friend list and passively surf each other’s profiles without interacting. We’re satisfied to check in without actively engaging in a conversation. We may wish each other “Happy Birthday,” or not.

But it’s back to work now.

I’ve got a job to do. I said I’d follow through, and I will.

And once my entire facebook account is gone, no one (except the facebook staffers) will have access to my Timeline.


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