Ready or Not, Your Facebook Profile Is About to Get the New Timeline Design

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And so it begins.

Though Facebook’s new “Timeline” design has been available to those looking to switch their profiles over for a while now, the rest of us who haven’t had the time and/or energy and/or caringness (new word?) to deal with the changes are about to be thrust into the social networking giant’s vision of “a new kind of profile that lets you highlight the photos, posts and life events that help you tell your story.”

(MORE: 5 Things You Should Know Before the Facebook Timeline Switch Happens)

Facebook says you’ll have a week to finesse your new look once it goes live on your profile, but after that it’ll be available for all to see:

Last year we introduced timeline, a new kind of profile that lets you highlight the photos, posts and life events that help you tell your story. Over the next few weeks, everyone will get timeline. When you get timeline, you’ll have 7 days to preview what’s there now. This gives you a chance to add or hide whatever you want before anyone else sees it.

If you’re like me, your “story” is going to be mighty boring, but if you’re not like me and you have a bunch of “photos, posts and life events” winding their way through your current profile, you’re probably going to want to take some time “to add or hide whatever you want” before all the changes go live.

Why? Let’s ask our own Keith Wagstaff, whose Are You Ready for Facebook Timeline? post asks a) if you’re ready for Facebook Timeline and, assuming you’re not, b) offers tips about how to get ready for such a momentous event:

In the olden days of several weeks ago, my life was simple. I created a photo album, people commented on it, and off it went to the recesses of my account, only to be found by those who really wanted to dig for it.

Post-Timeline, profiles will become all-you-can-view buffets for casual voyeurs. Load someone’s Timeline and you’ll see months of status updates, photos and more displayed chronologically. Expand the collapsed years below and you’ll be able to trace someone’s history on Facebook all the way down to his or her birth.

First word of advice: Get used to clicking “Hide from Timeline.” You access it through the “Edit or Remove” pencil icon that pops up whenever you hover your mouse over the top right corner of any post.

My first hour on Facebook Timeline was spent doing just that. The profane status updates following the loss of my beloved Lakers to the hated Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals? Magically gone! The crude jokes written on my wall by friends right after we all graduated college? Nowhere to be seen, like Dane Cook’s career!

Then there are the photos. The most jarring aspect of the Timeline experience is to scroll down and suddenly be confronted with a younger, more inebriated version of yourself. Nobody, not even you, wants to relive the moment you thought you could eat 20 Crunchy Taco Supremes in one sitting…

…This meticulous combing through of all your status updates and photos is the key to privacy on Timeline. I started my account on July 12, 2004 (information courtesy of Facebook Timeline), which meant I had more than seven years of content to review.

So if you’re an active socialite like our friend Keith, plan on about an hour of editing if you’ve been using Facebook for any meaningful amount of time.

Me? I have 30+ friend requests I haven’t acknowledged – the earliest stretching back well over a year – and aside from a short-lived, yet incessant period of auto-posting every article I’d written to Facebook before I got yelled at by my so-called “friends” (and one family member who accused me of sending out spam about tech products — there’s apparently a fine line between writing about gadgets and trying to get people to buy them), my status updates have been pretty much nonexistent. Photos, too. Videos, especially.

Like I said, my story’s a boring one. As such, my Timeline profile is going to look like Boston on a windy day after the garbage trucks roll through but before the street sweepers make it out.

(MORE: Are You Ready for Facebook Timeline?)

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