Facebook Timeline: Forced to Relive Our Past?

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

Facebook Timeline: Forced to Relive Our Past?

Thumbnail image for Bullying.jpgMost bullied kids can attest to the fact that it is harrowing enough to go through the experience the first time, so they certainly would not want to have to relive that pain. In fact, even kids who graduate high school and go on to enjoy popularity and self-esteem at college (or college grads who move on to the real world and finally feel accepted), would probably still pass on the chance to take a stroll down memory lane – which is perhaps plagued by memories of ridicule and ostracism.

Well, in a matter of days, whether we like it or not, we will all be forced to take that stroll. And although for some of us that walk will evoke happy memories and quite a few laughs, for others it will dredge up pain we worked for years to bury.

Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg announced this week that in a matter of days it will no longer be optional to have the Facebook Timeline; conversely, everyone’s profiles will be automatically converted. For those of you that do not frequent the social media site that often (or for users that simply don’t remember), the Facebook Timeline was designed to allow users to “tell your life story.” Facebook’s Timeline is a complete facelift of Facebook’s current user profile, according to company officials.

It allows users to choose a “cover photo” for their profile (or any picture they want in the background). Users can browse what milestones they achieved each year since joining Facebook, and users can read warm posts from high school buddies and college peers that bring smiles to faces.

What Zuckerberg failed to account for is that along with sweet posts will come hurtful posts (if they existed) and for those who experienced tougher high school or college experiences, they might soon be reminded of just how painful the past was. For Facebook does not discriminate against which posts to display – it simply displays every message that someone every posted to your public wall. Simply put, the kid who was bullied on Facebook and received posts daily about his/her behaviors will once again see those posts take the limelight.

Sure Facebook allows you to censor what you display on your Timeline as you can select to “hide” posts that you would rather forget. But for the child that spent so many years forgetting the cruelty that was imparted on his Facebook wall, he is now forced to revisit these moments as he desperately tries to hide these messages forever.

You can definitely argue that perhaps that child should have deleted those wall posts years ago when they actually happened (for it appears that Facebook cannot bring back on your Timeline what was already deleted). But what about the child who was so busy meeting with his guidance counselor to discuss this taunting that he forgot to delete the post? What about the child who pretended to laugh it off for so many years but now does not want to relive it? And what about the simple fact that old posts were so quickly replaced by new posts that oftentimes you didn’t have to delete anything?

The problem with the Facebook Timeline lies intrinsically in why the site was created – to give users the chance to “tell your story.” But, by making the Timeline mandatory, Facebook is deciding to tell your story – not you. And Facebook is neglecting to realize that there are some chapters in our books that we wish could remain permanently closed.



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