Nathan W. Bingham
Connecting in a Hyper-Connected World

Timeline—Tell Your Story With Facebook

Facebook's New Timeline

Love / Hate

I have a love / hate relationship with Facebook.

I loved their updates to location tagging and wrote 5 reasons why you should be telling your Facebook friends where you go to church. Then this week they launched some more changes; Subscribe Button, Improved Friend Lists, and a new News Feed / Ticker. I liked these updates…not so much.


Appalled FacebookA lot of people were frustrated with these changes too.

My non-geek wife summed up the feeling well when she first saw the layout, thought Facebook was broken and essentially said, “Ahhh…I just want Facebook to do what Facebook has always done.”

Change is important and often necessary, but how you roll-out change is just as important. Think Netflix.

It appeared to me that Facebook was tacking on features in a crazed attempt to keep up with Google+. The very beauty of Google+ was that it had a different philosophy of social networking and it was a service built from the ground up with that in mind. It was smooth and responsive. Facebook can’t compete with that by “tacking on” features.

f8 Expectation

Needless to say, I wasn’t that enthusiastic about what might come out of Facebook’s f8 Developers Conference. Then I read this piece of “pre-news” before heading to bed last night…

“On Thursday, developers will be elated, users will be shellshocked and the competition will look ancient. On Thursday, Facebook will be reborn. Prepare yourselves for the evolution of social networking.” (source)

For a social media geek like me that was hard to read. Maybe all the “tacking on” would stop and some serious re-engineering was going to take place? As hard as it was I weighed the pros & cons and decided not to lose any much needed beauty sleep by getting up at 2:30am Aussie time to watch it live.

So, What’s New?

I woke this morning instead to Google Reader full of articles about what Mark Zuckerburg announced. There are several changes coming, but I’ll focus on the one most significant change that interests you, the user.

A New Timeline

Facebook is launching “Timeline.”

This is how Facebook introduces their new Timeline:

Since the beginning of Facebook, your profile has been the place where you tell your story. People use it to share everything from the small stuff, like their thoughts on an article, to the most important events of their lives, like the photos of their wedding or the birth of their child.

Back in the early days of Facebook, your profile was pretty basic – just your name, a photo, where you went to school…Over time, your profile evolved to better reflect how you actually communicate with your friends. Now you can can share photos of what you did last weekend, and updates about how you feel today.

The way your profile works today, 99% of the stories you share vanish. The only way to find the posts that matter is to click “Older Posts” at the bottom of the page. Again. And again.

With timeline, now you have a home for all the great stories you’ve already shared. They don’t just vanish as you add new stuff.

Facebook’s new Timeline will allow you to create a very visual and artistic way to “tell your story.” It will suggest important events to include in your Timeline, but you can control all the information that is shared there.

Watch Facebook’s Video Promo of “Timeline”

With some of the other new features rolling-out soon it won’t only feature updates. For example, soon you’ll be able to not only “Like” stuff online, but Facebook buttons will make use of verbs like “Listening to”, “Reading”, “Watching”, etc.

That piece of pre-news that said “Facebook will be reborn” at the f8 Conference probably wasn’t exaggerating too much.

An Opportunity

Do I really want to be sharing that stuff about me?

It could be so easy to turn it all off and retreat from where the world is connecting, engaging, and sharing.

But let’s not fail to see we have an opportunity here; an opportunity to tell our story to all those we’ve connected with on Facebook. A group of people who, if you’re truly being salt and light in this world, will be a great mixture; ranging from Christians, to people of different religions, to those with no religious affiliation at all.

We have an opportunity to share our story, and how our story has been re-written because of what God has done in the person of Jesus Christ.

A Warning

I really want to be sharing that stuff about me!

With every opportunity there is a potential danger too. In this case, narcissism.

“Social media. It’s all about me, right? Let me tell my story. What I’m doing. Look at my Timeline. It’s all about me and I love it!”

They’re the cries of our narcissistic sinful self. They’re cries that need to be put to death.

But maturity isn’t necessarily walking away from it all. Christian maturity is being able to use such tools and unparalleled opportunities to the glory of God…not the glory of self.

Christians aren’t called to hide from the public. We are letters that are read and known by everyone (2 Cor. 3:2) and we’re to have lives that those around us actually see (Matt. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:12).

Yes, we must seriously beware the sin of narcissism, but that doesn’t mean we can’t share our story on Facebook.

The Future

Will these changes stick..? Will this change the way the world around us uses Facebook..? Will funerals of the future flip through a person’s “Timeline” instead of a loved one giving a eulogy..?

Who knows.

As these features roll-out over the coming weeks, and as changes begin to hit brands as well, I’ll continue to consider how we can use social media to the glory of God.