Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My life in review

Being December, most people look back over the past year and reflect. Good? Bad? Bring on the New Year? Be sad to see this one go?

All the magazines use this time of year as the perfect excuse to rehash photos and news stories. Revel once again in the scandals, ogle even more over celebrity transformations.

Last December, I found myself looking back a bit further than just the year, when I found myself scanning my favourite old travel photos.

This week has seen a similar trip down memory lane, courtesy of Facebook. You see, I decided to take a leap and embrace the new timeline format on my profile page. I figured I might as well, if it was going to be forced on us eventually. Plus, it does look rather fetching with the nice large cover photos.

A nifty new feature of the timeline format is that the dates on photos can be changed. This appealed - immensely - to the OCD part of my brain that likes to categorise things into proper chronological sequence. Rather than languishing in a December 2010 album, those travel photos that I'd scanned a year ago are now nicely dispersed along my timeline, neatly prettying up the years from 1999-2003.

Once I'd started, I couldn't stop. I found other old photos that I'd been tagged in over the years, even pics from the mid-2000s (before everyone was on Facebook) that had been added in retrospect. I had to change those dates, too.

Before I knew it, every year from 1999 onwards had been documented on my timeline, along with a few random school photos from the mid-late 80s and early 90s.

Looking at it all, I felt the need to start hiding some of the 'stories' from the timeline. Even though the stories were nothing new, and photos were ones that had always been available in albums for friends to view, it seemed like an overshare and needed culling.

There are the options of adding 'life events' to the timeline, and there are several categories, each broken into further suggestions. I'm sure it's only natural that people will want to add in special times such as graduations, weddings, births of kids... and that's where I draw the line for myself. Facebook has categories such as: New Roommate, New Vehicle, New Eating Habit, Broken Bone, Quit a Habit, Tattoos, Piercings, First Kiss... you get the picture.

Why not just add farts and nose picking to the timeline? Surely everyone wants to know that too?

Maybe it's just me. While I love looking at other friends' photos (I do!) I have very little interest in so many of the potential life events that some other people will no doubt be including on their timeline. I just don't care, and in that same vein, I don't imagine that my friends will be looking at my timeline and annoyed with me for not documenting my various body piercings and drunken antics.

Now that I have my timeline updated and looking pretty, something strange has seeped into the nostalgia factor. It's more than nostalgic. Seeing one's life spread out into neatly compartmentalised categories for others to view, it almost feels like preparation for an obituary. Born in -, graduated in -, married in -, X number of children, worked at -, travelled to -.

Packaged up, ready to go... how convenient.

I'm going to keep the photos on the timeline - because now that I've been thinking about it, the morbid part of my brain thinks what if? If something suddenly happened to me, and I was no longer around, my blog and my Facebook account would probably be the most easily accessible part of me that my daughters may want to access one day. It may be the best way for them to get a sense of my life when I was younger.

Hopefully, it won't come to that. We just never know, though.


  1. I haven't been as diligent as you in going through the photos. It does lay them out nicely, I agree.

    I may even add in some more old ones now to fill up that timeline space. But yeah, I won't be updating all the other stuff. It's just craziness.

  2. Whoops - hit publish before I was done. Silly me. I should know when you try to log in mid comment that it does that.

    I have been having similar thoughts to you about what the kids would find out about me later on via my digital life. Also about themselves.

    In a way, me including them in my profile etc. has already started their own online story. It is a responsibility I've been thinking about a lot lately. I've been mindful that they may read all this stuff I've put out there some day too. Such a different world to the one in which we grew up.

  3. It's very different, isn't it? Right from the beginning, when I first started this, I had in mind that it might one day become a 'record' for my offspring to peruse. I quite like that idea - I know if there were any kind of public musings written by my mother or grandmothers back in the day, I'd have devoured them by now.