Who doesn’t have periods in their lives that they’d rather gloss over? Fortunately, I’ve had steady work during tough economic times, but many can’t say that. And I well understood the apprehension of my friend Monica (pseudonym) who imagined her Facebook Timeline looking like this: January 2008: “Married.” February 2009: “Single.” March 2009: “It’s complicated.” April 2009: “Single.” You get the idea.
A filled-in Timeline captures a fairly complete picture of you, in snapshot view, optionally including what you’re listening to, reading, or watching, thanks to the new social apps. True to form, I decided not to embrace them all. Pinterest, the hot online pinboard, ensnared me in its visually addictive clutches as did Spotify, where “music is social,” but I opted to keep the news readers at bay, preferring not to share what I was reading in real time with my 500 Facebook friends. (As a case in point, I learned from Facebook that a colleague had read a Washington Post article about what liquid substance was traveling down Christina Aguilera’s leg. My day was none the richer for that discovery.)
“Enough whining,” you might reasonably say. “No one’s forcing you to be on Facebook.” I would concur. Facebook reminds me of a lover who’s not good for you but whom you can’t quite renounce. What’s a girl to do? I could leave Facebook — but who’s kidding who? — or take a break and see how much we miss each other. I could delete my old posts — but who has the time? For now, I’ve adjusted my privacy settings, friend list, and “liked” pages, and occasionally enabled Spotify’s private sessions. (No need to telegraph a blue mood to 500 people based on my music selections. No need to beg the question of why.)
I’m still engaged in a battle of wills between my unwavering desire for privacy and Facebook’s decree that we share every aspect of our lives on their platform. But let’s get past me, since I am a bit of a contradiction (more wired than many, more private than most). Has Facebook finally alienated your affection, or do you find Facebook as irresistible as ever?
—Jennifer Mirsky is a digital media strategist who has led editorial teams in the creation and production of award-winning sites, including those of Hearst and Time Inc., as well as Meredith, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of Women’s Lifestyle, Meredith Interactive. Her consulting clients have encompassed start-ups, hyperlocal, and global luxury brands.