About a week ago, I made a Twitter account out of curiosity just to see how many friends of mine were on Twitter and what they were talking about.
My reactions ranged from this…
I’m having social media angst. Facebook, having swallowed Instagram, seems to be gradually becoming it. Their News Feed algorithm increasingly favors photos and downplays links. This sucks, because I want to use Facebook to read interesting things my friends post, and post things I think are interesting for my friends to read. I don’t want to see any pictures of your fucking food. That’s fine if you use Facebook primarily for promoting your cat’s existence and how silly it looks doing things. The great thing about Facebook is it’s versatile. I do me, you do you. I just feel like Facebook is becoming biased against literate dialogue. Even national conversations about social and political issues on Facebook are being reduced to quotes from B-list celebrities next to their pictures.
So I’m flirting with the idea of picking up a little Twitter on the side.
I like social media because I like to write and I like to read. But to be honest, I think books are a pretty limited way to write and read. They mostly have to be written by “experts” that have made it through the approval process of some publishing company, take forever to produce and so are never up to date, and have to be about 300-400 pages long because some Unelected Gods of Bookery decided so, even though most interesting ideas can be concisely expressed in 3-4 pages.
On the other hand, I think my friends are pretty smart and they’re a lot more diverse of a crowd than the world of published authors and they read blogs and news sources I don’t and share the good stuff on Facebook. Social media also gives me a way to write quickly and whenever I feel like it and share ideas and links to things that I think are interesting without having to get a book deal.
Twitter seems like a pretty good platform for that in general. But it’s also kind of a wasteland of mindless blabbering you have to wade through to find things that you actually care about. Here’s how I look at it.
Upsides of Twitter:
- It’s mainly text based. You can link to pictures, but they don’t take up all the space
- You’re part of an international dialogue that can include important people whose thoughts you’re interested in but you’re not personally friends with
- You can spread your readers to people who aren’t already your friends, which is useful for things like promoting a blog
Downsides of Twitter:
- The character limit means most things posted on Twitter are witty, snappy soundbites made to get as many retweets as possible, but it’s harder to convey interesting ideas with real substance
- The culture of Twitter involves posting many times a day. This makes people more willing to post stupid shit, because they don’t have a filter between their brain and their thumbs. It also means Twitter is more time consuming to keep up with
- Way less people are on Twitter. About 2/3rds of Americans use Facebook, only 16% use Twitter. And among my friends it feels like even less.
- The hashtag thing is so fucking annoying
So friends– what do you think? Do you use Twitter? Why or why not? Share your wisdom with me.