Monday, January 21, 2013

Facebook/Twitter: What's the Difference?


For the last decade, my life, and many other lives, have been dramatically affected by two words: SOCIAL MEDIA.

I love social media. Not in an unhealthy, idolatrous way, but I genuinely love the connection that social media has made possible for me with people from different places and walks of life. In it's purest form, I believe that social media is to be SOCIAL.

It shouldn't primarily be a way to promote yourself, but a way to better yourself through healthy online relationships. I also believe the only way to keep online relationships healthy is the intent to connect, eventually...if possible, in person...you know, in a normal way. The unhealthy part of social media involves the word "fantasy"....that dark place that people find themselves in when they escape truth and embrace a lie. There's multiple examples of that, but that's not the point of this post.

For the last several years, two social media icons have risen to the top of the mountain and have become staples that don't show any signs of dying soon. They are....

 &

Most people are on Facebook...actually a lot more are on Facebook, than Twitter. In fact, now you're seeing your parents and even grandparents friend requesting you....which can be cool or just weird.

I, personally, prefer Twitter. I like the simplicity of it, and there seems to be less drama.

Over the last few years, Twitter has definitely grown and has gathered some momentum, and that has caused some Facebookers to be intrigued, with skepticism, of course.

One thing I get a lot from Facebookers, in a skeptical tone, is..."Why? What's the difference? Why should I tweet?"

I've really thought about that a lot lately and recently I had a light bulb moment......the Presidential Election.

I hate election year. It's truly one of the most juvenile, immature things to witness in our society. We vote for a presidential candidate who is literally bringing someone down to get themselves higher. Not my cup 'o tea.

Any who.....

Social media has become the hot spot for debate, discussion, promotion and endorsement in the world of politics....which triggered this light bulb moment for me.

I found myself really avoiding Facebook as much as possible in the heat of the election, because I was truly disturbed by some of the posts....but, I was totally content on Twitter. I wasn't offended or disgusted at all.

So I asked myself...."What's up with that?"

Then it hit me...

The difference between Facebook and Twitter is the "F" words: Friendship and Following.

On Facebook, the connection is made possible through "Friend Request". You're asking someone, "Will you be my friend?"

On Twitter, you're "Following" or being "Followed" by someone. You're not asking them to be a friend. You're saying, "I'm interested in what you have to say."

Following someone and being friends with someone can be two very different things:

1. When you make a decision to FOLLOW someone, it's usually because you agree with their views or you're entertained or interested by their views. If someone turns you off or offends you, that's usually when you stop listening to them and you go a different direction. The same applies to Twitter. If someone says something offensive and you're turned off, you simply hit the "Unfollow" button and you don't have to expose yourself to them any longer. Now, I've definitely cultivated some friendships through Twitter, but for the most part, my Twitter feed consists of people that I line up with or I'm just simply entertained by.

2. When you are FRIENDS with someone, it's because there's some sort of emotional connection. You care about them and that's why you call them a "Friend". Facebook is primarily built on this idea of friendship and emotional connection. I can look at my list of Facebook friends and say that there's some kind of personal connection with the majority of them. I rarely have friend requested someone, unless I have personally met them in real life...you know, the normal way. Friendship is also a choice. There's some people you call "Acquaintances" and some you actually call "Friends". To call someone a friend is a big choice. It's an emotional connection. You're not obligated to be friends with everyone, and Facebook follows that logic. If someone friend requests you, you still have a choice.

Here's the big difference between Facebook and Twitter:
On Twitter, if you're offended by someone, it's simple....you stop following them. You don't have to tolerate their opinions anymore. It doesn't have to be an emotional decision. It's cold and not messy. You simply hit "Unfollow" and say "Esta la vista, baby!"

On Facebook, if you're offended by someone, it's not so simple...it's messy. If you "Unfriend" someone, they will know and more than likely, it will be personal and possibly hurtful to them. You're literally saying, "I don't want to be your friend anymore." Now, obviously, Facebook gives you the option of hiding their posts, but if I did that, I would be hiding a ton of people's posts on Facebook during social and political uprises...which, I really am not interested in taking the time to do. It takes a very extreme situation for me to unfriend someone on Facebook. I've only done it a hand full of times in the last several years.

In short, the difference between Facebook and Twitter comes down to tolerance. Twitter is easy and enjoyable for me, because I'm picking and choosing who I want to hear from without the messiness of true relationship. Facebook is more complicated, because I have to tolerate my friends posts and opinions on the news feed. Sometimes it's not enjoyable and easy to be on Facebook. Sometimes it's discouraging to see and hear some of the things from my friends on Facebook....but, they're my friends. True friendship is buit on a tolerant, supportive and patient relationship of listening and communicating even if I don't agree. It would take an extreme situation for me to "unfriend" someone on Facebook, but on Twitter, I don't have to think twice if I want to "unfollow" someone, because there's a lot less friendship, which means a lot less need for tolerance.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Am I missing something? Comment below and let me know!


5 comments:

love to read said...

Gary,
Your post on Facebook and Twitter gave me a new insight to social media. I am amazed and shocked by the sheer number of people who jump on the bandwagon when something is posted they either agree with or agree with. Our teens don't have the coping mechanism to deal with when they are befriended on Facebook. Nor do they know how to hold a conversation because everything is in shorthand. I believe our society has become way to tolerant on how others behave. Others feel anything and everything can be posted on Facebook irregardless of the consequences..

love to read said...

Have you heard of the trophy generation? It's a generation where parents reward their children even when they fail. Facebook has taken away any privacy that we have

Gary Durbin said...

Yeah...you definitely have to be careful with social media. It's not going away, so it brings a different type of parenting challenge, for sure. My son is 8, so I'll be dealing with that in a few years, I'm sure.

Fred McKinnon said...

I like both, but honestly, when I want feedback and conversation, Facebook wins every time. I can post the exact same thing on Twitter and Facebook, and I may get 1-2 RT or @replies on Twitter, but 30-40 comments/likes on FaceBook. Facebook still is much more viral simply because of the way your activity appears in friends' feeds.

Good post!

Chad Jarnagin said...

I'm not sure if I should chime in on this, but...

Where my life's rhythm is these days, I'm deleting my FB profile in early FEB. Instagram and Twitter (as well as my site) are the basic mediums I currently find to be the most positive experiences. This decision is NOT for everyone. Some of my friends have already peaced out on Twitter due to a lack of reciprocated community effort. Same thing could be said for FB. # of friends only mean that we hide more people's feeds. :)

good convo topics Gary. Do what you do mate.