The new Facebook Timeline seems to be provoking a lot of conversation. Not necessarily about Facebook, but about personal history. People are suddenly concerned about their entire digital lives being laid out in front of them and in front of other people they are connected to. People are concerned about going back and editing their digital pasts to make sure it shows only what they want to show, maybe deleting evidence of past feelings and opinions that have since changed.
About nine years ago, I had a friendship end that was a big part of my life before that. I am better off without the friendship as after it ended I was able to look back and see that it was a volatile and lopsided relationship where I did a lot of giving and the other person did a lot of taking.
Anyway, after the friendship ended, I went through and got rid of all evidence of the relationship…pictures, mementos. I actually regret that now. Whatever the relationship was, it was a big part of my life at one point and as all parts of my life, helped make me the person I am today.
Then just this week, I was going through emails from two years ago, looking for some piece of information, an address I think. It so happens that at that time, my husband and I were going through a rough patch. It happens. We’ve been together for 17 years. We were fighting. It was just a time when the stresses of his long commute and my long days alone with the kids overwhelmed us both. I found myself confronted with some angry emails we sent each other, full of all the bad emotions we were feeling at the time. Things that were said out of anger and frustration. They were ugly. My first instinct was to delete them, make sure I never saw them again…just erase the whole thing. But I didn’t. They are part of a 17-year relationship. They are part of the “for better or worse.” They are part of lessons learned. They are part of our story.
I am not a believer in erasing evidence of the past. I believe in embracing my past. Looking back on it, learning from it, and growing. It’s all a part of me. Why would I want to erase any part of me…?
For something like a Facebook Timeline, I love that part of my history is so easily recorded. The thought of going back and editing that history hadn’t even occurred to me. I will look back at it and I will chastise myself, laugh at myself, and maybe even compliment myself on different parts of my past. A Facebook Timeline is just one facet of it, but it’s all part of the story…the good and the bad. It’s still being written…recorded in pictures, interactions in a social network, on this blog…and all the old pages are driving the writing of the new ones. It’s not a story I want to be selectively ripping pages from. I prefer to occasionally reflect on it, be entertained by it, enjoy the good parts, learn from the not so good parts, and use all of it to make the next chapters even better.