I've got it now. The new Facebook timeline that my virtual friends have been complaining about during the past weeks. I don't know whether Cambridge was the last stronghold or whether the transition happened by age groups and has now reached the dinosaurs like myself. Since I cannot do anything about it I'd better make the most of it. I have checked what some of my friends have put into their pre-Facebook timeline, and it's mostly graduation and employment dates that Facebook apparently has copied from the existing profile. I can think of lots of things to put in: conferences, publications, career turning points, epiphanies. Actually, it may be a good thing to look back at my life. I have my complete CV on academia, but how about adding some personal memories of conferences, or perhaps pictures?That's worth sharing.
I mostly use FB for professional purposes. The “Life Event” feature suggests adding your new hobbies, new languages (it has been a while since I learned a new language, unless you count Cantabrigean), travels, and tattoos. My first response is: who cares about tattoos? Then I remember how important it was to have my ears pierced when I was twenty. There must be people for whom tattoos and piercing are as important as degrees and grants for me and who would be puzzled about my enthusiasm for degrees and grants. There is a feature for “Other events”. I can add: “Three-year research grant from the Swedish Bank Tercentenary Foundation”. My pierced and tatooed Facebook friends will be awed.
In “Family and relationships” there is a feature for “First met...” I suppose it is meant for the first meeting with your only true love. But what if I start adding colleagues whom I met at various professional conventions? That would be an exciting timeline! Especially if their memories of our first encounter are different from mine.
I am not sure I want to fill in the “Health and well-being” section, even though “Overcome an illness” is something I have done a couple of times. I am definitely in two minds about “First word, kiss, other...” If other implies first intercourse with full penetration I am not sure I want to share it with the penetrator's wife. But if other implies the first review, the first translation, the first keynote talk – yes, I'll be proud to share it, and as I have noticed from responses to this blog, people are interested in these things.
The new timeline opens new unexpected vistas. There is room for imagination, as Anne Shirley would say.