19 August 2008

A Facebook personality test

Today I have a treat for you guys: my good friend and roommate, Laura, has agreed to guest-write for me. We had a conversation about this a little while ago and she had an interesting theory about Facebook layouts and personalities. Here she is...

Johanna and I were talking over dinner a couple of weeks ago, and the new Facebook layout came up. She mentioned that she didn't have it yet, but had seen it, adored it and couldn't wait until it became available to her account. I said that I tried it, hated it, and switched back to the old one. We realized that the way we felt about these Facebook layouts was pretty indicative of our personalities.

For people who are not on Facebook, or haven't seen the new layout, I will tell you about both of them. The new layout breaks information down into smaller pieces. There are tabs that you have to click on to access information in people's profiles. You cannot see a person's entire profile all at once anymore--you have to choose which section you want to see ("wall," "work info," "applications," etc.) and click on the appropriate tab. The old layout just let you go to a person's profile and see everything on one page. You could scroll to find what you wanted.

Johanna and people like her (likers of the new layout) prefer information to be broken down into categories and organized. They are detail people.

I and people like me (likers of the old layout) prefer information to be combined to create one whole. We are big picture people.

I think a lot of it is about ways of interpreting information. I don't know Johanna's way*, but when I want information--and let's stay with the theme and say that the information I want is "What is person - from - high - school - who - found - me - on - Facebook - doing - with - her - life?"--I am a skimmer. I glance. I glean. I don't have the patience to think about what I want to know specifically and then select an appropriate tab. I want to see everything all at once, because it's the combination of things that is telling. You have a Little Green Patch and you are interested in hanging out with friends and partying and you like the Dave Matthews Band and instead of listing books you say that you're a magazine girl and you play parking wars and you lose every game of Scramble (RIP) and all your wall posts are about drinking and you are married to a balding man and you work at a company I've never heard of as an associate in a small town in the West? It's the combination of those facts that sum you up. Individually, they don't tell me what I want to know. I synthesize. I am unable to find meaning in small pieces of information. I have to see it all at once.

"Johanna people" probably do this in a completely different way that is equally valid and probably would have them arrive at the exact same conclusion.

My friend Jake also posited quite rightly that what you choose to do about hating the new layout on Facebook serves as another personality test. He chose to keep it because it is a fact that that is how Facebook looks now. He rolls with the punches. I refuse to keep it because I hate it and I'd rather have an outdated layout I like than a current layout I hate. I resist change and am the kind of person who'd keep a Betamax movie watching device long past the early 80s. Not that I had one. I do, however, use the old LiveJournal layout instead of the current one. I hate that for similar reasons to why I hate the new Facebook--tabs! No! I want to see all the links at once!

* With me (this is Johanna talking), it depends on whose profile I am looking at. I tend to use Facebook a lot for industry-related things. So, usually I would like to go straight to the "info" tab (on the new layout) to see where they work, how long they've been there, where they worked before, etc.

If I click on Laura's name, I only do it to see her "current" status and photos. Since I tend to already know someone who is my Facebook friend, I personally don't need to see everything because I already have a general feel for them.

If I am friended by someone I peripherally know (someone like the writer of a blog I read daily), I will read every single word on their page, but the tabs just make it feel better for me. I panic when everything is on one long scrollable page. I like compartmentalizing bits of information as much as possible until there is no logical way to break it down farther. Stuff on my computer follows the same type of thing:

Another thing I didn't like about the old layout: I hated having to scroll to find what I wanted, because people have the option of moving boxes around. Non-custom-layout MySpace pages are fine for me because by now I know where each section is, and I can therefore just go straight to that section with my eyes; a sort of intuitive tabs already there in my mind.

Which is your way of thinking?
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