I like using Twitter, but I never post on Facebook. In fact, I dislike Facebook. There are a few reasons why I prefer Twitter.
One, I’m a news junkie. Other than the New York Times, I get most of my news from Twitter. People do post links on Facebook, but they’re usually just links to viral quizzes or Upworthy-style listicles, and I’m not interested in those. Twitter has a higher substance-to-fluff ratio than Facebook.
I rarely go to Facebook just to see what random people in my feed are saying. If I go there, it’s to check up on a particular person. I type the person’s name into the search box, bring up the feed, and see what he or she’s been up to. Of course, that requires going to the Facebook homepage first, and I usually see a few status updates from other people that catch my eye. But I rarely go there just to pass the time. I use Twitter for that.
Two, I feel like Twitter approximates the community that used to exist around blogging. I miss that community; I met lots of interesting people back in the ’00s, all because of blogging. (Including my husband!) Many former bloggers are now on Twitter, especially the gay blogging circle that existed 8-12 years ago. People who took the time to maintain blogs back then had interesting things to say, and now those interesting people on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Facebook is what AOL used to be. Everyone is there: family members, distant relatives, New York friends I haven’t seen in ages, random acquaintances from high school and college. If I were more of an extrovert, perhaps I’d be be more interested in knowing about the random facts of all these people’s lives. But I really only want to know what’s going on with my closest friends. If you want me to know something, you should tell me directly.
That’s one reason I follow only about 100 people on Twitter. I would probably feel overwhelmed if I followed, say, 200 people. But maybe that’s because I’m sensitive to information overload; I’m an addictive link-clicker, but I’m also very wary of getting too sucked in to the internet and falling into a timesink. A shorter feed keeps me from drowning in internet stuff.
Three, I feel silly posting Facebook status updates. Unless it’s about something major, like getting married, or posting my thoughts about a college reunion where the people who will want to read it are fellow alumni who will only find it via Facebook, I don’t know why everyone in my life could possibly care about my thoughts or actions. Because of the larger, unfilted audience on Facebook, status updates feel too much like self-conscious performance. Tweeting feels a litlte bit like that, but not nearly as much. I can avoid all the awkardness by not posting on Facebook at all.
On the other hand, at least Facebook users are nicer about giving you feedback and gratification when you write something. On Twitter, I’ve written countless tweets that I think are funny or interesting only to get completely ignored by my followers. No favorites or retweets or anything. I guess I must have a weird sense of humor, or a weird sense of what’s interesting. I should probably be more thick-skinned about being ignored, but it’s hard.
The final reason I don’t like Facebook is because I don’t trust it. I know that Facebook basically exists to mine my data for advertisers. That makes me uncomfortable. On Twitter I don’t even have to use my real name.
We live in weird, weird world.