Facebook’s Timeline ushers in a new era of social media, celebrating the individual and giving you more power over your online presence. Is this the Facebook of the future?
Facebook’s newest feature, Timeline, has garnered much attention since it was rolled out last month. Many love the new profile makeover, which makes all your content searchable in a highly visual format, while others consider the soon-to-be-mandatory change a move in the wrong direction. But, most significantly, this next evolution of Facebook has sparked a new debate about what social media can do and what it should be.
When unveiling Timeline at the f8 conference in September 2011, Mark Zuckerberg emphasized the format is a new way to truly “express who you are.” He compared the old profile to a brief conversation, capturing snippets of your current life, but described Timeline as an hours-long, in-depth conversation about who you are and what your life is about, all creatively curated by you. It is a more intuitive, visual profile, allowing you to highlight the content you want to share most.
But this new makeover is more than aesthetic. Timeline really addresses the foundation of all social media: How much do you really want to share, and how?
As Zuckerberg describes it, Timeline is “the heart of Facebook experience, completely re-thought from the ground up.” Facebook has always maintained that users want to share more, but users have often pointed out they want more control over what they share. Timeline may well be an attempt to move into a new era, as it is editable and gives you more power to shape your online presence.
Zuckerberg believes our online social life should and will continue to more accurately reflect our real lives, and Timeline is the next major shift toward that dynamic. By allowing you to visualize and record your entire life (even life before Facebook), you will be able to maintain genuine personal connections within your social network, or so Zuckerberg hopes.
One social trend Timeline particularly highlights is the celebration of the individual. Your profile is now less about sharing current events and news and more about creating your own personal space. This careful distinction is made clear by the fact that businesses cannot adopt the Timeline format. Thus it seems Facebook is clearly drawing lines between individual interaction and business.
What effects this will have on the commercial world is unknown, but it will be interesting to see if other social platforms move in that direction as well.
Only time will tell if Timeline’s goals will succeed and truly redefine our social media relationships. One thing is for sure, however: All profiles will eventually be converted to Timeline, making it an inescapable feature for all Facebook users.
What are your thoughts on evolving social media? Tell us in the comments below.