So the title of this post might be a little misleading. Most will think this post is about money and Facebook. Afterall, Facebook is going public soon… but here we are talking about a different type of investment, your time and energy.
By now you have most likely have heard about the new look Facebook is taking with Timeline. I’ve only been playing with it for a few minutes, but in one word I would have to describe it as: mesmerizing. Facebook has taken your usage history and created a virtual story album. Not just pictures, not just words, but a complete story.
I was quickly drawn to as far back as the timeline would take me, to when I joined Facebook back on September 8, 2004. I wanted to see what my story said some 7 years ago. Short shout outs and messages from friends that I still carry on with today as well as friends I have lost touch with spread across the timeline. I’m telling you, this is mesmerizing.
This is also genius if you ask me. Facebook has always been a way to not just interact and socialize with others but to really put together and see the image that you share with the world. When you see pictures of yourself and how you evolve through days … months … years, one can be very introspective if not a bit narcissistic. You can see yourself in situations in hindsight that may please you or may embarrass you.
But there is a dilemma here. While it is a debate on its own of whether or not Facebook owns the information you post on their site (this is not the moment for that debate), there is nothing but certainty that Facebook is in complete control of the format that your information is displayed. You realize this fact all the time when they change the format (much like the new Timeline) and you either love or hate how the site evolves. This poses the issue of you investing your time and energy in personalizing Facebook to be your go to source for social awareness. What if you spend all this time making your Timeline look exactly as you please only for Facebook to change the format again … or … go away completely.
What would our social media world do if Facebook went away tomorrow… How many photos would you have just lost? How many “friends” would you lose contact with or never even think about again?
Each year I make a photo album book for my wife as a birthday present. It has a few dozen pages of the highlights of the past year with a few comments here and there. I know those aren’t going away.
I really don’t think that Facebook is going away any time soon. But it sure is interesting to think about how much time we invest in a site that is, in reality, completely out of our control. Love the new Facebook Timeline, hope it sticks around for a while … but I don’t think I’ll be dedicating large numbers of hours to updating every little “about me” box.
Ps. Yes, I know you can download your Facebook profile. But it really isn’t the same now, is it?