I decided to give up Facebook for lent. So in the past few weeks I have engaged a bit more with Twitter (I know this is kind of like giving up beef for lent only to eat fried seafood every night.) I only went through moderate Facebook withdrawals and have learned to lead a quite happy life without it though I will likely return to Facebook in a few weeks.
What I've Learned as a Tweeter
Though I have had a Twitter account for a couple of years it has remained mostly neglected because I just didn't really "get" it until recently. I read a very insightful interview with Twitter’s founder recently in one of those magazines you find on an airplane. When asked about the difference between Twitter and Facebook he likened Twitter to a person’s own customized news feed. Twitter isn’t about relationships as much as information. This idea really helped me to understand what I might get out of Twitter that blogging, RSS Readers and Facebook don’t offer. So armed with this idea I began following interesting sources of information. Initially I only followed people that I really liked but then realized that Twitter could be a great place to learn to get a wide variety of perspectives from others that I might not normally choose to consider. So I have have chosen to follow an eclectic blend of news sources, Sci-fi aficionados, non-profit humanitarian organizations, comedians, social commentators, and more than a few rather geeky science feeds on physics, asteroids and theories that are way over my head. Oh, in this mix I also follow a few friends and fellow bloggers but that seems almost more incidental in the Twitter universe.
At first it was a little weird to post something on Twitter and get no feedback whatsoever when the same status update on Facebook might have drawn 15 comments but again I had to realize that Twitter isn’t so much about social networking as social informational networking. And this is why Twitter is not such a drain on time because it really doesn’t scratch the itch for human interaction much at all (though it certainly can lead there). I read a great post (Twitter vs. Facebook) by Frank Viola on this subject in which he compared Facebook to a class reunion and Twitter to a roundtable discussion. I think he’s on to something. I tend to think of Facebook as more of a party and as such it likely appeals more to extroverts and outward processors. Twitter on the other hand is not only a great stream of information but is a lot less taxing on those who are not so much into parties and crowds, those who might be more introverted or at least partied out. Twitter seems to give a person more power to interact in places they choose without always having to navigate the uncomfortable issues that arise in the highly social world of Facebook over misunderstandings, strong opinions, those who want to "friend" you that you don't want as friends, the steady stream of invitations to play games and support causes that one has to constantly reject etc. I will likely go back to Facebook but I suspect I will use it much less in the days to come because even though I am more of an extrovert and outward processor sometimes I just don't feel like going to a party. Sometimes I just want to sit on my back porch and read.
- How have you processed the differences between these two types of social media? Are you drawn to either one of them more? And do you think this has anything to do with your personality and the format of these social media tools?
By the way, you can tweet this blog or post to Facebook by clicking on one icons at the bottom of this post. Go ahead try it! Really!