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All of a Sudden… Facebook Matters

For years we’ve used Facebook to update our friends, families and “the hot chick we met at that one party” with anecdotes detailing the minutia of our day-to-day lives. Favorite movies, places to eat, quotes out of context (inspirational or otherwise) and relationship statuses all delivered separately can seem unimportant and narcissistic. Together they become something very different: a tableau of one person’s life, made of individual and very significant moments.

And I love that.

This is what Facebook is hoping to accomplish with its massive redesign of users’ profile pages that dropped this week; what they’re calling the Facebook Timeline. The goal: to make Facebook more than a destination for killing time by playing FarmVille or letting your friends know you still hate the “new Facebook” (whichever iteration that may be). The goal is to make Facebook real in a way that actually matters.

As you’ve noticed, your profile no longer shows only the most recent posts from friends. Instead the profile extends down through your entire history with the service and beyond. Past statuses and posts to and from friends alike are all available for display in your Timeline; what is shown, however, is entirely up to you.

You may have already begun curating your Timeline; starring here and pruning there to make sure that your Timeline shows your best face through the years. As you do, however, remember to display not just the moments you remember fondly but the ones that really mattered.

In my Timeline a breakup with my high-school girlfriend has earned its place alongside happier moments because it was a part of growing up, one of the many moments that makes me who I am. The snapshots of my life I choose to display will be the important ones, not just the gratifying ones or those that make me look good. For me, this is the point where Facebook becomes something more: a way to truly connect with another individual. As amazed as I am by Facebook’s sudden transformation, I’m equally amazed that nobody did it sooner. Services like Twitter, which focus entirely on instant response, will have some catching up to do if they hope to make their offerings as indispensable as I believe Facebook has become. Facebook has made a bold statement and the takeaway is:

This is what social networking should be.

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