'Gently Consuming Time': Facebook's New Timeline
While many first world cries may be heard in protest of the latest change in Facebook's appearance, it's interesting to consider exactly why these changes occurred and how the social media giant is trying to make us engage with ourselves and each other. A recent article interviewing the designers of the Timeline reveals insights into the way it is aimed at controlling the way we create our identity.Replacing the basic profile with the recently introduced Timeline has caused a roar of complaints as users find it clumsy, messy, difficult to interact with and well... just plain different. While perhaps not articulating exactly why the Timeline is 'bad', per say, it is clear the new look disregards standard UI rules and instead leans towards a more 'human' feel. In fact, the designers of the Timeline wanted to convey feeling over pure function, an 'emotional experience' to help users remember and be remembered.The design team used 'time' as the governing factor of the timeline, as a universal constituent to organize events that happen in people's lives, allowing users to highlight moments as they see fit. But does the Timeline really give as much freedom as it claims?The endless scrolling of the Timeline (and of Facebook's usual newsfeed, for that matter) is meant to represent the 'stream' of life, a continuum of events and memories that 'gently consume time'. But it seems this 'gentle consumption' has much bigger implications: it provides a bigger gateway for Facebook advertising, encourages us to upload more and more and more content, and essentially, promotes a digital identity that is prioritized above reality.Designed to resemble a scrapbook, with a hodge-podge of photos and text, it is clear there is an emphasis on a creative UI. But none on uniqueness. The homogeneity of a billion Timelines, no matter how interesting their content, are based on the Facebook veneer that essentially controls how we shape our identity.Ultimately, with features allowing users to create reports and "find those individual patterns that define your identity," the Timeline spoon-feeds users a method to create a completely insular and uniform self.