05 October 2012

Yes, I'm fickle: Throwing over Twitter for Facebook

For several years I've held on to my imagined identity as a "hip geek". I have never been one to follow the masses, but  my definition of what that means has been always been a nebulous one. I don't mind if something I enjoy goes mainstream; I'm not one of those fans that laments when their favorite band "sells out". However, I am resistant to partaking of certain things after they become commonplace. Again, what bothers me and what doesn't is unpredictable. It pained me to watch the Twilight movies and I still haven't read the books, but I had no trouble picking up the Harry Potter books well after everyone had started talking about them. In my mind, there is a certain point at which you can still adopt something and be trendy. After that point, you look like you are trying too hard.

To that end, I put a lot of energy into avoiding Facebook. I had tried MySpace before Facebook was open to the general public, and I found it cluttered and noisy and childish. I thought that Facebook was going to be the same, and frankly I thought it was going to disappear as quickly as Facebook and Friendster before it. To me, it was the place where people who are not tech savvy hang out so that they can say they are trendy. It reminded of the AOL days when people thought that AOL was the entire internet. Eventually, however, my desire to be a good parent and a smidgen of curiosity won out. I joined Facebook but not without reservations.

When I first started my Facebook account, it truly was just to keep tabs on my kids and play those darn Zynga games to which I have become unhealthily attached. Slowly, however, I started using it more to keep up with my real-life friends who no longer live close to me. Then the parenting group that I've been part of for years went from being mainly an email listserv to being a Facebook group. The last thing that pushed me over the edge was the realization that Twitter, which I have been using since 2007, is not the service it was five years ago.

From the very beginning the creators of Twitter emphasized that it was not a chatroom. That was the way my online buddies and I used it, though. This was long before the celebrities and the corporations and the media became aware of Twitter. Back then, at least on my feed, it was just a bunch of podcasters, bloggers, and tech reporters chatting about their day. That was where all the jokes about people tweeting their lunch came from. I remember it was during one of my unemployment periods, and I would carry my Palm Treo around the house so that I could read the tweets as they were forwarded to me via SMS (no Twitter clients for phone back then). It made me feel less lonely, knowing that I could throw my random short thoughts out there and that someone would respond to them.

Of course, Twitter is nothing like the cozy little internet pub that it once was. Twitter has moved from being like a chat room to being more of a news feed. It may sound narcissistic, but I rarely tweet now because I don't feel like anyone will notice. Twitter has recently implemented changes to their site that they hope will encourage users to spend more time on the site. Some tech reporters have speculated that Twitter is doing this to lure people away from Facebook, but I think it is a little late for that. The head honchos didn't want Twitter to be a hangout or a chat room, and they got their wish. This is not to say that I don't like Twitter. I tell people all the time that, since I don't watch the news or read the newspaper regularly, I get a sense of what is going on in the world from what flies by on Twitter. For instance, if I see the words "tragedy" and "Colorado" show up in my Twitter feed five times in a row, I know I need to turn on the TV or do a Google search and find out what happened. However, I think the average person's tweets get lost on Twitter now. It is a place for us to read, not write.

As much as I hate to admit it, Facebook is filling the niche that Twitter once did for me. I have a husband and teenage kids, but a large portion of my day is spent home alone without a way to get out and see other people. I'm also more shy in person than my writings may indicate, so being online helps me converse with others at a safe distance. More and more, I'm getting the feeling that the people who are willing to connect with  me are on Facebook and not Twitter. That doesn't mean that I am going to be posting a lot of pictures of my kids or bragging on how wonderful my husband is; I leave that to my mommy blogger friends. However, you will be seeing more random status updates from me on Facebook throughout the day. Feel free to comment on them. Let's get a conversation going!
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