One of the many items of bacn I receive are notifications of when someone “favourites” one of my Flickr photos. This morning, someone favourited a photo — taken years ago — of one of the kittens I owned who, only a month or two after the photo was taken, died of feline leukemia.

I’ll admit, I was in a low mood already when I got up this morning, but this email kind of put the nail in the day.

Later, an Instagram photo I tweeted months ago while in a bad mood jumped back into my “today world” when somebody found the old tweet and replied to it. There was nothing mean about her tweet, it was good-natured — but it was a tweet I was happy to leave behind.

Sometimes, I don’t want to be reminded of the past.
Social networks don’t help.

This “bubbling up” of the past seems to be happening more often these days, and we have sites like Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter to blame. Conversations are meant to end at some point. But social sites want to keep a “conversation” going, long after it should have stopped.

I am most happy to leave conversations be after a few exchanges or a week or two of dialogue. But, no, just try to do that on Facebook. A discussion that started on Facebook years ago can jump right back into your Notifications stream like the conversation never ended.1

It’s only going to get worse.

Facebook’s new Timeline (the site’s replacement for personal profiles) actually let you pick a month and year in someone’s past and dive right back into a discussion they might rather leave in the past. Take, for instance, that embarrassing story I told on Facebook about my first kiss. (Sorry, you need to be a Facebook friend of mine for that link to work.)

Imagine someone who got divorced three years ago, is only getting over it, getting a friendly “Hey, are you two back together now?” from a friendly, if out-of-touch Facebook friend.

We need an automated solution.

Even basic blog systems these days have a way to halt commenting ability after a certain number of days. Developed to prevent drive-by spam posts, they also have the side benefit of keeping our social past where it belongs — in the past.

I really do wish these sites offered a way to disable notifications or commenting after X number of months or years.

Or, at the least, have a “that kitten is dead now” filter.

What do you think? Are bringing old conversations suddenly back something you like about social media or wish there were a way to turn it off?

  1. Facebook lets you “Unfollow” a discussion, but it’s a manual process. []

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