I just flipped the switch on Facebook’s new timeline. When I first heard about this timeline feature I thought it sounded pretty cool. I joined Facebook back in 2005 and a chance to look back and see how everything fell together sounded fun. Where did I pick up that friend? What words did I coo on her wall when we were in the honeymoon phase? How did those words change when we were breaking up? Now that timeline is on and setup (got to always double, triple, and quadruple check privacy settings when it comes to Facebook) I am not really impressed.
Sure looking back through the timeline was fun for a couple minutes. However, I think Facebook, like Google and Yahoo and so many internet companies before, has forgotten the basic premise of all websites: Keep it simple, stupid.
In 2005, Tila Tequila had just jumped from MySpace (remember that little site?)to stardom. I like everyone else had a MySpace page and struggled constantly with the code to impress people who saw my site. Great customization but like Spidey’s Uncle Ben says, “with great power, comes great responsibility.” All that customization weighed down the load times and made cruising through people’s pages as much fun as walking trudging through a knee high muddy swamp. On MySpace I had to wade through tons of spam emails and comments each day. I mean who knew there were so many ways to increase my penis length or so many African royalty looking for my help. Then came along Facebook.
Facebook was a clean and simple layout. Every page would load quickly and the visual layout made checking someone out as easy as given the once over to the girl in the red dress. I know that The Social Network claims that Facebook has become such a behemoth because of the .edu exclusivity that it began with. Yet, it isn’t exclusive anymore and still people are signing up and logging on everyday. My personal opinion is that Facebook grew because it was simple. The same reason why Google search blew Yahoo, Altavista, and Ask search out of the water.
For those of you who don’t remember the beauty of the clean white Google search page that even on a 56k modem could load in a snap. Oppose that to the jumble of colors, links, and pictures that Google’s competitors tried to load every time. Google’s simplicity, quick load, and single minded simplicity was a thing of beauty. It made searching for things on the internet fun. Just like Facebook’s early incarnation made searching through people fun. Want to make a new friend send them a fun poke, write a quick note on their wall, or just ‘friend’ them and BOOM you were connected.
Early Facebookers were more engaged with each other. People responded to a new unknown friend request with a email. A poke was funny not annoying. Someone writing on your wall made you feel special much like a new voice mail message makes you feel - you are just that much cooler because someone out there was interested in you. Compare that with today’s Facebook.
I admit a couple years ago I decided Facebook was a popularity game with the number of friends you have the score and I was determined to win. With that in mind I quickly maxed out the number of friends I could have (don’t do this at home) and gave myself a pat on the back. Some may blame this inordinate amount of friends as the real problem I have with Facebook but I don’t think so. I don’t think the number of friends makes the problems I have unique, I just think it throws the real problems with present day Facebook in my face more.
Spam, unwanted friends, un-engaged community, privacy problems, and more complicated pages. These are the problems, in my opinion, that make Facebook kind of suck these days.
Spam: we are used to spam in our emails but Facebook now gives us spam on our walls, through friends trolling to induct you into a game, event invites, and yes still in our email.
Unwanted friends: Creepsters, creepsters, creepsters.
Un-engaged community: I bet you could post I am committing suicide right now and you would get a couple likes and a few sarcastic comments. As a person who sits on both sides of the social media fence (as a user and a marketer) I can see how it is getting harder and harder to connect with people as well as why. I mean do I really give a shit about what Kraft Mac & Cheese posts on its’ wall? And, as a user because I learn to tune out posts I stop listening and quickly my entire news feed begins to turn into white noise. (yes, I am diligent about hide irrelevant posts)
Privacy problems: With the number of times Facebook has changed its’ privacy controls and rules I could be sending all my posts directly to Homeland Security right now and might not know it. Not to mention Zuckerberg constantly saying in the news that he believes I (and all the users) want my life to be shared and in the open (transparent) when in fact I kind of like my privacy and anonymity at times.
Now bringing it all back to what started this post is the timeline and complicated pages. The Facebook timeline is about the most complicated of pages I have seen. I give kudos to the UX designers, coders, and everyone involved in making timeline happen. I think they have done an excellent job in making the site navigable. Yet, when I turn on my timeline it is long and overwhelming. I look at all the posts and pictures lying there and wonder “what the hell did I just do?”
Do I really want to republish those dumb ass posts and stupid pictures from 2005? Do I want those things searchable? And, the though that someone can go through my timeline or that I can go through theirs is a bit unnerving. But, privacy aside this timeline is a cool idea but not really a good idea for me. It has taken my very simple profile page of picture, posts, and likes and turned it into an ungodly long diatribe about my life. In my opinion, it’s too much information.
Maybe this will make me sound old and idiotic but I truly prefer simple minded simplicity on the internet. Give me the simple Google search page over Yahoo’s topic pages. Give me Facebook’s old profile pages over MySpace’s clusterfuck of customization. And, to me, this timeline Facebook has launched is sadly one more step towards needless complication of the website. I want to log on to Facebook to engage and connect with a group of people. I want to communicate ideas, memories, feelings, and the whole gambit of the human experience. Yet, Facebook is nothing more than a crowd of people in a room all yelling at the top of their lungs and hoping someone is interested in them. The Facebook timeline is just adding everyone’s life resume to every yell they make. Seriously do I really need this information? Not really.
I am curious what you all think. Do you like the Facebook timeline? What are your thoughts?