Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I like Twitter better than Facebook, because I'd rather have followers than friends.
I'm not sure what the attraction is with either of these "social networking" sites, but I cling to them like lint to my fine fabrics, which isn't always a good thing.
The thing about Twitter, I find, is that there is a social hierarchy to it. In other words, the higher up the social (or political or entertainment) ladder one is, the more followers one has, and the less one has to devote time to the followers. As a leader, you post your thoughts and the others read them and listen. There are probably @ replies, but the leader isn't necessarily obligated to reply because, after all, he is the leader and you are the follower. You are put in your place. That's the part of Twitter that bothers me, since I find social hierarchy disturbing. By default, what a celebrity (or leader) Tweets is more interesting than what I do, and that isn't always the case, especially the way some of them rabble on about nonsense in their lives.
At least Facebook has a social equity. However, some folks have seen to make it a political platform, and I have been forced to un-friend them because I get drawn into the political discourse. Those folks would be better off with a blog where they could dispense their politics without interrupting the social atmosphere and making others uncomfortable. Here, I can opine on issues and you expect to hear an opinion. On Facebook, your expectation is that you will hear about the latest life issue or event affecting your life, not the current political climate and its affect on you. Social boundaries are good sometimes.
There is something to be said for Twitter's 160-word limit but less to be said for its construction as a caste system. While they're limiting the characters, they could also limit the number of Tweets per day. I don't need to know about your "awesome cab ride" or the "cool bracelet I just bought." Sum it up later in the day, if at all. You're not as interesting as you think you are.
I'm not sure I want 3,000 friends either, which is what Facebook encourages. "You might know [this person] who also knows [another person]," and we're supposed to add every friend request we get. What that means is that your Home page is filled with the personal observations of everyone on your Friends list, and that's too much for me to take sometimes (most times). As in real life, I can get along quite well with three or four good friends better than I can with 50 acquaintences. It's easier for me to focus on their needs and interests if I don't have to think about what their friends are doing. Life is confusing enough.
Perhaps Facebook should limit friends the way Twitter limits characters (pun). That would force us to choose actual friends from "friends of friends" and others who know you because you're someone else's friend. Most of the time, I find myself tracing friend requests back through two or three people before I ultimately ignore it. Ignoring friend requests is the last great vestige of the Internet. We can choose to ignore people and they are forced to accept it.
If only life were as simple as the Internet makes us think it is.

1 comment:

Firestarter5 said...

You're limited to 5000 Facebook friends. Good luck on that.