The Yearbook Effect

February 8, 2012

Do you know where your high school yearbook is? Do you remember who signed it? Do you remember what your classmates and “friends” wrote to you?

Maybe your yearbook is currently on your bookshelf; maybe it’s tucked away in a trunk; or maybe you or your parents threw it out or lost it a long time ago, without much care or concern.

There are a lot of parallels between our Blabbb world, especially Facebook, and our high school yearbooks.

Its seems like there are two kinds of people in this world: Yearbookers & non-Yearbookers. Yearbookers are super nostalgic, saving every memento; non-Yearbookers are not nearly as sentimental and clearly do not put any stock into nicknacks. Yearbookers, on the one hand, actually saved their yearbooks, remembering exactly what everyone said and wrote, having reviewed the yearbook over and over, when their yearbooks were new and fresh and prompting constant review; on the other hand, non-Yearbookers hardly had anyone sign their yearbooks, and they tossed theirs aside and never really looked back at them.

This contrast is now amplified in our lives with the overwhelming presence of Facebook. Obviously, Yearbookers are obsessed with FB, logging on all the time, staying up to date, maybe even “checking in,” posting photos and clicking “Like” a lot; while non-Yearbookers do not engage in much daily Facebook use. Interestingly, FB has grown so prevalent that even non-Yearbookers have FB accounts; they just don’t seem to use them that much or with great frequency.

Take this a step further, and we can see some clear cut parallels towards are personalities. Yearbookers are more likely to save things, be that ticket stubs, photos, mementos, nicknacks with personal meanings and postcards from friends and family; while non-Yearbookers find most of that stuff to be clutter. Heck, there’s probably a parallel we can make about Yearbookers and non-Yearbookers with organized and disorganized collections of digital music and photos.

Our differences are obvious. The interesting factor is that the Yearbookers seem to be so invested in the Facebook world. Yet FB lacks the permanency that Yearbookers appreciate so much. Why then do Yearbookers communicate today in a non-permanent manner? Sure, it’s nice to communicate at a rapidly fast pace and to share things across the globe with great ease. That said, what happens when a Yearbooker is sitting around at night and recalls a memory of what a special someone wrote on his/her FB wall back in February 2009? How many times can you (and Facebook, for that matter) click the “Older Posts” link at the bottom of your wall to get back to that era in your FB life. Sure, old links or postings are “there” somewhere, but they’re extremely difficult to find. Why are Yearbookers addicted to such impermanent communication? When we started developing this Yearbook Effect theory, we originally were ready to jest that sentimental Yearbookers should start printing out screenshots of their favorite posts from significant special people in their lives so they could physically retain the memory/moment. Not anymore …

Now, with the introduction of Facebook’s Timeline, we can easily get very nostalgic. We can easily jump back to look over times in our lives from years ago. In a way, FB has become a virtual shoebox, and, as we said, Yearbookers love shoeboxes filled with mementos from times past. That said, we don’t usually leave our personal shoeboxes out on our coffee tables for others to look through. Yet, the Timeline does just that. It allows new friends to check out our old lives. Sure, you can go back and review every single post from the last four-plus years and edit each one for custom privacy issues, but who is really going to want to go back and do all that?

Since its invention, unless you really wanted to waste serious time, the past postings on your Facebook Walls were quite simply that: in the past, distant memories, long gone and, for all intensive purposes, unretainable. We initially thought this was a sad flaw about Facebook, that communications, from birthday wishes to inside jokes, became abstract, virtual dust, never to reappear. At least, though, we got used to it. Now, with one might flick of a mighty Facebook “switch,” Mark Zuckerberg and his FB team are opening up our entire pasts to those who, quite frankly, we might not want to grant such access.

So, whether you’re a Yearbooker or a non-Yearbooker, assuming you’re on Facebook, get ready to have your “virtual Yearbook” placed on your virtual coffee table, whether you “like” it or not. Facebook’s Timeline is coming your way, and, yes, you might have some editing to do (or some conversations that you might want to sit down for) …

Blabbbers, what do “you” (not “u”) think about Facebook’s Timeline and the Yearbook Effect?  😉

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