3 Catholic Thoughts on the Facebook Timeline

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Last week 120,000 watched via livestream as Mark Zuckerburg announced the biggest change to Facebook since its inception. Many of the changes will impact the way we interact with businesses and one another but my primary concern here is “Timeline,” the departure from Facebook Profiles to a pseudo virtual scrapbook of one’s life. If you’re not familiar with “Timeline” take a second and watch the video below…

This is not meant to be an exhaustive commentary and I welcome your input in the combox, I just felt this change has a lot of implications to our Faith and wanted to share a few preliminary thoughts.


Thought 1: Intimacy

Zuckerburg explained “Timeline” as follows. When you first meet someone you may share a few details about your life, what your name is, what you do for a living, what type of music you like. The old facebook profile can be likened to this type of small talk. The new Facebook “Timeline” goes deeper, giving users the ability to broadcast the narrative of their life.

Have you ever had an encounter when you meet someone for the first time and they divulged their entire life story to you? How did you feel? Probably uncomfortable. The reason is we naturally are intimate by degree of relationship.

Every human heart desires to be known and to know which is why the Facebook “Timeline” will be extremely successful. Without genuine intimacy with God and close bonds with family/friends our culture turns to the third option, paper-thin illusions of intimacy.


 Thought 2: Storytellers

By telling our narrative we fall into two categories, those who are honest and those who are dishonest. In conversation, within the confines of an intimate relationship, individuals are much more likely to be honest with their story. But when all eyes are on your narrative how would you tell it? Maybe you’re not the person to ask, maybe the average 13 year old is. It is this next generation that will be most effected as they unfold their lives in real-time on Facebook alongside a world of social pressures.


Thought 3: Perception is Reality

Social networking can and does perpetuate false perceptions by giving users the ability to choose what aspects of one’s life they broadcast. It would be a safe assumption to say the majority of pictures posted by highschoolers are with their friends, the majority of college pictures posted are of partying or other “memorable” activity, and the majority of 30+ers is of happy family shots. Are these the only activities these groups are participating in? Certainly not, but these are the activities these groups want to be made known at these times in their life.

A large college conducted a study while my friend was attending about three years ago and asked the student body what percentage of students they believed consumed alcohol on a given weekend. The students responded over 90% while the actual data was less than half. The old facebook isn’t necessarily the cause of this but it is a factor in the disparity. Envy and false perception of a life narrative has many more implications than presented by the small talk of the old Facebook.


I’m sorry that all sounds negative so I’ll end with some…


Catholics can now evangelize in a more authentic way, by telling their story.

We can, through the “Timeline,” show how God has impacted our lives in a very real way.

Your Facebook can become your conversion story. That goes for Cradle Catholics too.


*Facebook “Timelines” are slated to replace Profiles for all users over the next three weeks.

Steven Lawson

Steven Lawson

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3 thoughts on “3 Catholic Thoughts on the Facebook Timeline”

  1. Avatar

    Wow, I had no idea about Facebook’s new timeline feature. Probably shows how often I hop on Facebook. 🙂 I know it’s all information we’ve willingly given up to Facebook, but it’s still going to be a bit unnerving when it all comes together.

  2. Avatar

    I switched to the Timeline just a few days ago, and I have to say that as far as layout goes, I love it. I never thought about the changes this way, because all the information was there before, it is now just organized differently. I think that the Timeline may make it easier to share out faith with others, but it also may have no impact. It all depends on how people have utilized facebook in the past and how they will continue to utilize it in the future.

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