My son turned 2 a few weeks ago. Like most proud parents, I used his birthday as an opportunity to go back through my social media feeds to see photos of him over the past two years, and to relive important milestones.
As I was looking back at these posts, I didn’t stop with the birth of my son. Once I started scrolling and clicking in Facebook and Twitter, I was able to access even older posts of family, friends and random, off-the-wall quips.
This required a lot of scrolling and clicking, and the occasional lag time was kind of frustrating
Enter Timehop, an app for mobile devices that acts as an archive of old social media posts and photos. Users connect social media platforms and compile all the results for a specific day. Although the app has been around since 2011, it reached the one million download status for iOS (Apple) devices in 2014. The Android version was launched in March.
Timehop quickly streamlined my year-to-date search of photos of my son.
Whether you’re a social media enthusiast or a casual user, Timehop is a great app for your social media toolbox. Once you activate the app, you can easily link it to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare accounts as well as photos you might be storing in a Dropbox account or on your phone.
One side note: When linking to your Twitter account to Timehop, you’ll need to go to your Twitter account page and download an archive of your tweets, and then upload that archive to Timehop.
When I was looking back at old posts using Timehop, I saw photos of important events over the past few years of my life. There were posts from old friends that I haven’t talked to in years and funny things that I had written. By the lack of shares and retweets, they were obviously much funnier to me than my social media friends and followers.
This is when it struck me: Using social media is not just about what my friends are saying right now, or what I’m going to post in the next day or two. Using social media can also be about the history of my personal life, and the lives of my family and friends.
I get to relive the birth of each of my kids. I get to see pictures of my dad (he’s been gone for a couple years now). I get to look at the old photos that people have been putting online for Throwback Thursdays (if you don’t know what Throwback Thursday is, do a quick search of Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #TBT).
Every post to a Facebook page or Twitter account is just one more entry in our social media autobiographies. You don’t have to be a famous person or even a particularly good writer or photographer to create a record of your existence.
And if these social media accounts help us draft our autobiographies, Timehop certainly helps us turn the pages.
~ A version of this article appeared in the Sunday, November 30, 2014 issue of The Vindicator.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor of communication studies the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA where he also directs the graduate program in professional communication. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator and Tribune-Chronicle newspapers on social media and society.