James Mayes

Blog: Facebook won’t let me forget

In Facebook, Personal Development, Social Media, Uncategorized on September 26, 2011 at 7:44 pm
As with most of the social world, I kept a close eye on F8 last week, expecting huge things and indeed, pleased with much of what I saw.  I’m still digesting the full extent of some implications and I’ll work through some of those here soon.

First up though, I wanted to explore an initial reaction from a friend of mine – this as a result of the Facebook Timeline feature.  I picked up the posts going round the tech blogs on how to create a spoof Facebook app so you could get the timeline functionality switched on early and get a preview. This I duly did. Again, I like.

From a design perspective, the profile page seems somehow more fluid to me. I’m no design expert (as anyone who’s witnessed one of my presentations will concur!) but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a decent experience when it occurs before mine own eyes.

In this case, I commented as much.  As one would expect, the comments continued (some positive, others negative) until something really stood out for me:

Is this really true? Are we only able to maintain friendships if we mask history or view relationships through rose-tinted spectacles? On the one hand, I’m only too happy to recognise my own failings, those occasions where on some level, apology or reparation has been necessary. On the other though, I find this a desperately sad reflection on human nature. Surely we can develop to a point where we no longer need to pretend some things were never said or done?

Having taken a few days to consider, my position hasn’t changed.  So how do I resolve these different aspects? Can I reconcile the open nature of future technology platforms with the need to occasionally forget? Will the likes of Facebook prove to be a permanent reminder of our own errors? Will this ultimately prove too uncomfortable for all but the purist of heart to live with?

I think I remain conflicted on the subject. I hope I will be for some time to come.  Changes like that made to the Facebook profile can cause the kind of introspection we don’t often allow for. For that alone, thanks Facebook. You did good. You made me stop and think.


  1. Even if you have access to information, you still need to remember to look it up. So I think that we’ll still be able to forget things. But when looking for something, Facebook will make it easier to actually find it. And I completely agree, sometimes it’s good to just think about stuff.

  2. If relations were based on the capacity of people to forget, people would not strive to acquire keepsakes of their experiences ranging from merchentize to photo albums. The ancient Greek used to say that he who knows not his past, is codamned to have no future.

  3. I think an even sadder reflection on human nature is the willingness to let a business like Facebook get away with tracking their browsing habits – even from 3rd party websites.

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