Updated: Jan 20
Facebook calls it a “personal digital archive.” TIME magazine calls is “a social blow by blow of a person’s total Facebook past.” Mark Zuckerberg, not surprisingly, takes it one step further, “It’s how you can tell the whole story of your life on a single page.” So how do you like that? Your life has now been reduced to your “total Facebook past.” You are your Facebook profile. Neat.
Facebook users, we are told, are being “encouraged” to add photos of their childhood and otherwise invest themselves in managing the content of their own Timeline. Actually, “encouraged” is a bit of a euphemism. Users get a week to figure out what they do and don’t want on it, because when the time is up, whatever is on your profile, for better of for worse, will be added to your Timeline for everyone to see. But not only “see.” As the TIME article once again puts it, “With Timeline, Facebook is asserting itself as a personal archive too — a searchable, curated, data-driven record of your past.”
Don’t you love that? Your life is being “curated.” And by an algorithm, no less. Now, with something called “frictionless sharing,” which is the ability of outside apps to be integrated seamlessly with your Timeline, you will be, in effect, giving permission for third parties to “log your activity on outside sites…” The article explains, “Instead of posting about your musical appetite du jour, music-streaming sites like Spotify, MOG or Rdio will do it for you. . . . Updates end up inside Facebook’s new Ticker, a feed of your friends’ activity streaming in real time. . . . Timeline gobbles up your data and presents it to you later in a set of summarized highlights broken down month by month: most-listened-to albums, books you read or recipes you tried.” You get the picture. Your entire Facebook life on display for the world to see; and increasingly, your Facebook life is your life — in aggregate form.
Now, in case it isn’t clear to any of you out there who has a Facebook account, Facebook’s intention isn’t merely to allow you to commoditize yourself like some 21st century product, it intends to “monetize” your information. Once-upon-a-time, Facebook was created for you, but that’s all changed. Now you’ve been created for Facebook, and boy oh boy, is it ever making a killing off of that subtle little reversal. It’s not you Facebook wants — it’s your desires, your likes, your buying habits, your “trends” — in other words, your information. But to get to that goldmine of information, they have to deal with that cumbersome thing called… well, You. So Facebook got an idea. TIME puts it this way, “The more radical move [that Facebook made] was to cut out the need for manual updates — Twitter’s bread and butter — by eliminating the middle-man.” Care to guess who that “middle-man” is they’re referring to? I know, weird, right?
So while you dally around Facebook singing silent praises to the Almighty Zuckerberg for being so fabulous for creating a platform that allows you to re-connect with all your old and new “friends,” it might do you well to realize that nothing comes for free, and Mark Zuckerberg couldn’t give a rat’s ass about you or your friends except to the extent that he can milk that little exchange for cash. You have always been a mean’s to a greater end. Zuckerberg started Facebook with the intention of picking up chicks. In other words, he objectified women for the purposes of getting… well, whatever it is college sophomores at Harvard want to get. But now he has bigger fish to fry. He now has an entire world to objectify, and you have willingly signed on to be a part of it.
The TIME article writes, “Timeline could mark the era in which a person’s digital identity becomes ascendant.” “Ascendant” means “more important,” just so we’re all on the same page. TIME continues, “Information about everything you do — the music you listen to, the books you read, the videos you watch, the news you consume — is being collected passively, provided you make it accessible. And making it accessible is the whole point of Facebook. As a result, your online identity becomes potentially richer and more complete than your offline one. . . .”
By this week, Timeline will be a mandatory feature of Facebook’s platform. And you will continue to post updates, upload pictures, share your thoughts and comments on other’s walls, buy music and read books and make restaurant reservations and otherwise prostitute your identity for public consumption. Just keep in mind that while you go about doing all this, someone is watching. And it isn’t just your “friends.” And that some One is loving every minute of it.