Shortly after pressing the “Get Timeline” button to activate the feature I had one of those Oh, Crap! moments.
Yea – that awkward moment when you realize that a few posts you made, or which were made to you at some point (perhaps from as far back 2005 when you first joined Facebook), are all still there!
Have you tried Facebook’s Timeline feature? Pretty soon you’ll have to. There are many positives to it. However, seeing that old post on my wall and having my mind flooded with a million thoughts associated with it, made me recognize firsthand one of the major issues many people will have regarding Timeline: It brings the past to life!
Awakening the Past
Let’s be honest – many of us, for one reason or another, are glad that we never have to live yesterday again. Its gone! Right? Then comes Facebook.
What does this really mean? It means that:
- All future employers can see your once misspoken statements.
- Every prospective lover will see the lovey-dovey greetings from the Ex or Exs and will be able to match all the dates and times you didn’t share.
- Beyond what prospective partners may think – many of us will have to deal with the emotional burden of seeing in vivid chronology, the blossom to the collapse of our love, our friendships and so forth.
- The support for a political cause you no longer care for won’t simply disappear.
Facebook, of course, says that you can enable what is shared and what isn’t. This won’t help most people, for 2 reasons:
- Fact: A large number of users are already tech-stupid. Even highly educated people. They will need time to adjust to the new system – and trust me, Timeline is not that easy to figure out. While you fiddle around with the wrapper, everything ever posted will be free for all to see.
- Even if you customize your Timeline a million times – you can’t hide everything. Things that others posted, that are outside your control, are not in your discretion to delete (just like before). Now these eyesores will be more visible than ever.
Don’t Miss the Point However…
Don’t go off on a tangent about things neither you nor I can change – like Facebook’s propensity to keeping modifying. Neither should you join the ‘Facebook ruined my life’ bandwagon.
You and I have a responsibility to recognize how the social media in our generation may help or hinder our desires to make the most of our lives and adjust to suit.
Going forward, here are 3 things to consider:
1. What people see, hear, watch, read and know about you is your responsibility.
Facebook didn’t come to your house and take that picture of you doing the dutty-wine. No, you are the one that posts information about yourself. You are the one that allows yourself to be tagged.
The responsibility is yours to monitor your name, image, brand online with the seriousness that brand managers do for top stars.
- You must take reporting seriously. As soon as there is an image of you online that you think may injure your reputation – report it. Block the person. Be proactive.
- You must learn how to customize your page – edit your privacy settings and so forth. You can’t blame Facebook for your inability to use the system.
2. Whatever you put online is free to all, and permanently public.
There is no “privacy.” Let’s just be real about this – Facebook does not delete any information you or anyone else posts online.
Additionally, as long as someone else can see it, that person may share it. They can cut and paste. They can do a screenshot and send. There is absolutely nothing online that a free software can’t extract.
If you can’t afford to show the image, or make the statement to everyone from your mom, your best friend, your boss, your priest, to the Prime Minister – then DO NOT POST IT.
3. The technologies at our disposal can do ten times as much good as the bad we now fear.
Facebook’s creativity with the Timeline is truly refreshing. You can tell stories online. Great stories. Stories that benefit others, show true love, and so forth. The problem is not with the technology – it’s how we use it.
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