Dear Facebook Timeline

23 Apr

We all hate it. We all hate change every time it happens on FB, yes, and then like lemmings we throw ourselves off the cliff and continue to overshare online. Really, FB’s tagline is “TMI.”

So why? Why do we hate timeline? Why do some of us (guilty) hate it so much that we continue to hold out, hoping against hope that Zuckerberg will just never notice us lurking in the corners?

We carefully avoid that stupid little button that says “Get Timeline Now” like a hyperactive kindergarten teacher shilling naptime. You know it’s not really for your own good. Even as kid you were all, “Yeah, and what’re you going to do while I sleep?” Now that we have friends who are teachers we know: check Facebook. (How’s that for a transition?)

1. It’s stupid hard to find things on people’s profiles, even stuff you saw just a minute ago and you know definitely is there.

It’s even harder on Timeline than it used to be. Speaking of, why doesn’t FB have a better topical search button yet? It’s called “google search” and my understanding is that it’s basically HPV: already there, just waiting to be found.

2. You have to be a graphic designer to use it and what if I’m not, Facebook, GTFO.

Seriously. Timeline requires some sort of aesthetic/graphic aptitude: your cover photo and profile picture have to complement each other. Have you seen someone’s profile where they don’t? It’s ugly as sin. AND WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE GRAPHIC APTITUDE, FACEBOOK. YOUR MOM HAS IT.

I already have to make graphic design decisions concerning this blog and god, shoot me now. you’ll notice it hasn’t changed in two years, and didn’t change in the 2 years before that. And every time I do post a photo I realize– oh wait this has to look not-barfy against that yellow banner. Do any of you want to come draw sketches for me?

3. Have you even looked in the mirror lately, Facebook? That isn’t body dysmorphia disorder. You’re weird now.

Timeline does not look good with FB’s surrounding layout– the way that little bar at the top scrolls down with it? The settings buttons at the top which keeps the cover photo from truly being a banner, which is how we’re accustomed to seeing it work on blogs? It’s like a truly terrible tumblr theme.

It only took me seventeen tries to get a decent cover photo / profile pic combo! You?

The huge gaps in the profiles of people who almost never use FB look awful– thus forcing you into an “all or nothing” sort of use. That is, if you want your own wall to look palatable. You know how you know it’s a bad design, though? Even if people do post photos all the time, if the pictures aren’t through the same filter, or taken with similar lighting, they look strange lined up next to and against each other. Our eyes can’t reconcile them. There’s a reason movies don’t generally film every other shot with different tints to them. Film editors are paid billions of dollars to fix such discrepancies.

All those “buttons” under the cover photo (“friends, maps, etc.”)? First of all, you have to use those functions for it to be visually appealing, which most of us don’t. See that blue box with “158” and the thumbs up in the picture above? It looks dumb. It needs an image. Second of all, the colors of them also should be in the same color family. (Right? “Color family” is a thing? See above lack of visual design ability.) But you have no control over what those buttons display.

4. What it leads to: the apocalypse and paid Facebook wall designers.

Just wait until FB figures this out and allows us each to change the color schemes of our backgrounds on our individual profiles. And the fonts. And the size of the fonts. More decisions! More people let loose with their own ideas of what looks good. (More like MySpace?) Every page different until you can’t tell where you are or what you’re looking at. How will it be different from any of the blog sites currently running? Good question.

Wasn’t FB’s original point that it controlled the aesthetics in a clean, blue and white format that corralled us all into a common space? We were like cows, with a more sentient being in charge of the barn layout. Now it’ll be like cows, fenced in, but each allowed to decorate their own corner of the field.

Oh wait, I know what that is: cubicles. An essentially ugly workspace in an office where everyone else is decorating, thus putting unnecessary pressure on you to make this space homey and cute even though you are only here by necessity.

The next step: bribing a visually astute friend to do it for you. Then: Facebook decorators. Wall designers.

You’ve seen Beyoncé’s tumblr, right? You think she’s designing that thing herself?

5. But I don’t WANT to take pictures instead of using words and you can’t make me! Or can you?

In Timeline, any text space– anything other than a photo, really– looks like blank space. Your eyes entirely skip over it. Ergo, FB is now image-based. But they didn’t have good image structuring. So they bought Instagram. And we’re very, very trainable. You don’t believe me? Read this article about the takeover.  (You know how usually we hear the word “takeover” and we assume the people taken over sort of shuffle off looking broken albeit rich? Does anyone not picture the Instagram founder skipping and yelling They fell for it! with cash falling out of every pocket?)

6. Can you at least let me resize the damn picture?

But I’m NOT an image-based Internet user. I take TERRIBLE photographs. I rarely TAKE photographs. I use FB because I DON’T use Instagram. Plus, until FB lets you edit photos within the photo upload, I can’t even find photos that fit appropriately, and how hard can it be to at least put in crop and resize features? Obviously I have no idea how to create such a program, but it can’t be that hard.

I have about five applications on my iPhone that can do crop, resize, fix red-eye, and make me look 100x cooler than I am by putting my life in sepia or Technicolor (it’s always more or less with us, isn’t it). I don’t use any of them. Pretty sure I didn’t download any of them. They just crept on there during the night. Have you seen the size of an iPhone? iPhones are why they spent all that time splitting the atom.

7. Timeline is meaning-making out of the little it knows of our lives. Feed it carefully. No, really.

What is interesting to me about Timeline is the fact that it’s forcing a sort of seamless narrative into our FB lives (and soon, otherwise): whereas before, we lived online by anecdotes. It was clear that posts were skipping stones. Timeline makes it appear as if this is one long, inevitable road, and whatever we post is merely representative of the exact next step we took after the last one.

We were curating our online personas before in terms of information and persona-creation. Now we are curating them aesthetically, visually, creating galleries that require sensitive artistic impulses, a constant checking to be sure the image is displaying correctly on the wall (and how aptly named, that wall). Just wait. Soon FB will be offering a scrapbooking service, similar to iPhoto’s, where you can ask them to make you a physical book. An objet d’art: a record of your online life, made physical, to put on your coffee table IRL. Full circle.

On the glass of the coffee table itself will be a projection of Facebook, a constant stream of your friends’ updates and pictures, a moving, living art surface with a manufactured idea of real-time, so you don’t ever lose your sense of simultaneously connecting and losing touch with everyone you have ever known.

technologically inept but yours anyway if you’ll have me,

MM

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2 Responses to “Dear Facebook Timeline”

  1. smilesandhappiness 23 April 2012 at 8:33 am #

    I hate timeline, I installed it by accident and somehow I’m stuck with it. It’s so annoying! Nice blog.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Dear Facebook Timeline: I might kind of like you, call me maybe? « Dear Mr. Postman - 10 August 2012

    […] Before I got Timeline on my profile, I had it on my Dear Mr. Postman page. And I HATED Timeline. HATED. IT. […]

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