Opinion
By Séamus Smyth

It begs for acceptance at every glance of the log-in page. “Try me out, you won’t regret it,” it urges, but with a sly wink. Many have fallen victim to this false advertising, but I shall not. The Facebook Timeline layout is much too overbearing and highly unnecessary for virtually all Facebook users.

One’s profile picture, which I find to currently be an appropriate shape and size, becomes an overbearing, 9-inch wide brick house upon installation of the over-compensating Timeline. It seems that the Facebook assembly team has overestimated the value of one’s homepage photo.

Of course it should be a prominent part of one’s page, but I do not believe it should be the essence and pinnacle of the entire layout.  The Facebook masterminds have failed to recognize that most users value their “wall” over their photos.

The photo is basically a requirement. Unless your account is two weeks old or you have zero understanding of Facebook fundamentals, you have inserted some form of image that represents you. But that photo is hardly you in a nutshell. It is a usually a particular favourite shot or potentially one that best describes your current state of mind and/or situation.

The “wall” however, is wonderfully unpredictable. It is a blank slate waiting for one to paint with his or her thoughts, hopes, joys or even better, someone else to do it for them. It is the unpredictable nature of this every-changing “wall” that gives a Facebook account its personality.

Yet, the Timeline completely diminishes the wall, making it roughly a third of its once capacious size.  The Timeline also appears crammed and convoluted. Why is it so important to recognize “mutual friends?” Better yet, why is it vital that the background photo be the length of a plasma screen television? Also, if someone can’t determine who they are adding based on the usual thumb-nail size picture, then you likely aren’t truly “friends.”

It is possible that Facebook have begun this re-engineering because they fear they’ll be left behind by Google + who are desperate to get in on the social media action. What Facebook needs to realize before they begin to alienate their original users, is that it was so heavily embraced because of its simplicity. People use Facebook because a blindfolded elephant could operate it and the initial layout looks little more than a text-heavy Word Doc.

There have been various stories since January that state Facebook Timeline will eventually become mandatory for all users. This means that the Facebook wizards in California have become so obsessed with ensuring they remain on top of the social media food chain that they are willing to force their devoted, yet unwilling fan base to convert to a platform they are not comfortable with?

Facebook should be reminded that it was only a mere decade ago when MySpace.com was the ultimate conglomeration of human beings looking to interact online. Yet MySpace is now a deserted graveyard, occupied by indie bands, foreign exchange students and profiles that haven’t been updated in years. The reason behind the rapid abandonment was of course the emergence of Facebook. But users weren’t swayed by any incentive other than the fact it was incredibly accessible and user-friendly.

The Timeline is a miss-representation of what I want and what I am guessing a large proportion of other Facebook users want as well. If the site continues to update its operation without looking to its audience for guidance, it may very well lose the nerdiest battle of all time to team Google.

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