Saturday, December 01, 2012

Past vs Present

Matthew Haughey has on good look at the differences between Facebook and Twitter. Why I love Twitter and barely tolerate Facebook:

Touching base with an old acquaintance is all about catching up. If I haven’t talked to someone in 20 years, the level of detail I’d like to see is what you typically see in letters from a family that accompany their holiday cards. Let me see a photo, how many kids do you have, what trips did you recently take, where are you working, how is everyone doing, and that’s about all I want to know for the next 20 years. But on Facebook I only have the option of adding an old acquaintance as a friend or denying them, and then I am met with daily updates on their daughter’s ballet classes, photos from their workplace, and who they think should win the big game tonight, forever. I kind of wish I could just see a person’s About page for five minutes and move on, as I don’t need the daily detail/updates of every old high school buddy’s life. Facebook doesn’t offer much granularity in this regard, without moving all your friends into complex groups with different levels of permissions.

If I look at everyone I’m following on Twitter, by and large they are peers I’ve known for the past few years in my current circle of friends, people that excite me with new ideas, music, and art, and lots of humor. On Twitter, I have no idea where most people grew up, what schools they attended, and they are similarly in the dark when it comes to me. You get to know more about the people you follow day by day as their comments and ideas fill my picture of what makes them tick.

At Facebook, half the people in my recent feed are defined by the university they attended, even if that was 50 years ago. Their location is mentioned in posts and prominently on their profile, as well as their entire school history. Heck, the whole notion of organization at Facebook is now defining a person as a “Timeline.” I find the new life history Timeline approach to be a way of constantly dredging up the past, to show others how it shaped this person, and it’s not necessarily the best way to define ourselves.

I like my current social circle of friends and their thoughts, jokes, and ideas they share each day on Twitter. I know I’ll be delighted with new information on Twitter, interesting articles to read, breaking news, and jokes about those. Twitter is a steady stream of mostly joy and makes my life better. Facebook is filled with people I barely know, chain-emails and disaster news about the sky falling that reminds me of my own past as well as my “friends” at every turn. The Internet is here today and all about tomorrow, and I prefer my social media to reflect that, and that’s why I love Twitter.

While I'm not quite as enthusiastic about Twitter as Haughey is, I completely concur with his views on the shortcomings of Facebook which I too barely tolerate.