The astute technology columnist can admit when he didn’t know something. Such is the case last week when Digital Trends ran an article from the great Francis Bea about some recent improvements to Facebook’s relationship pages, including their ability to use the Timeline view.
I responded with “What relationship pages?”
I suppose I could blame the Facebook publicity machine, but it’s really just me being stuck to the News Feed and little else. Anyway, finding out about this new feature took me on a trip down Memory Lane, which sometimes needs attention from the road crews. I was able to scroll through my relationship with my wife for the past five years and found out some important facts. For starters, she is much more likely to write on my wall than vice versa. I should work on that.
But our relationship cannot be told by Facebook history alone. December 2 will mark 11 years together. Zuck was still being hazed by seniors…in high school.
We actually met in the original social network: a chat room. Remember those? And yes, chat rooms were social networks, especially if you had a group of regulars that frequented the same room. When a new person showed up in the room, said they were from the city across the bridge from mine, and wasn’t lying when they said 22/f, I sat up and took notice. We met in person a week later, with me not having showered after attending a U2 concert the previous night. She still invited me in. Unfortunately, without FBI credentials I probably cannot access those chat logs. Because I’m not Director of the CIA, they’re not interested.
What I can still access is my old blog on LiveJournal. That was also an early social network, if you’ll recall. You had friends, they followed you and read your inane ramblings. If you could code HTML, you could even post pictures. I hadn’t seen that blog in years, but in there I meticulously chronicled our courtship for friends – both digital and real life – that I haven’t talked to in almost a decade. It was also funny how I self-edited back then. There were no mentions of fights or troubles. As in any relationship, we had our share. None of them were written about in my cringe-worthy mid-college voice. No, I’m not linking it, if only because I’m afraid of getting myself and DT sued by the writers whose voices I stole during those days.
My wife didn’t have a LiveJournal, so the first place where you could see our interactions frozen in carbonite would be on MySpace. Unfortunately, it appears that during one of their reincarnations they lost our accounts. Somehow my mother in law is still available, which is heartening. From what I remember, though, my page was a wholly clean example of what HTML should be, with very little musical accompaniment or weird Flash exhibits. My wife’s, on the other hand, was as if Las Vegas belched in code. Both of us announcing our engagement and wedding would have been nice to see again, though.
Which brings us to our relationship page on Facebook. One thing I’ve never understood about the Timeline project is – to me – it should go in chronological order. I want to see the old stuff first. I know what happened last week. Ours is only active from 2008, when my wife acknowledged that she had married me (three years previous) against her better judgment. Good thing, too. She was two months away from delivering our daughter. I was, of course, an early adopter since I kept my college e-mail address active.
Let’s be honest: no relationship is guaranteed to last. Facebook says that once the relationship ends, so to does the relationship page. But your relationship with yourself continues to be stable (if not accusatory) after a break-up, so if you wanted to go through all of your old posts and pictures to try and figure out what went wrong, Timeline is more than happy to accommodate you. In the wrong order, of course.
If your relationship spanned the decades – as mine thankfully does – and you were digitally active back in the day, you can even dig up older relics. It only took me a simple Google search to find my juvenile writings about a person I was just hoping would sleep with me without being disgusted. Little did I know that person would willfully sign up to perpetually continue that arrangement until death do us part (or Judgment Day, whichever comes first). It is the first thing I am grateful for every morning.
Now, if you never want to see that old stuff again, I wasn’t able to figure out how to delete it. Our trivial, viral new culture is marked by its permanence.