Tweeting Is Better Than Liking
Posted by Jamie C. Baker
When I was around 11 I was borderline obsessed with America Online. My father allotted me one hour on the weekend to get on and chat and one flash session a night during the week to check my email. I loved the 30 seconds of squealing as our dial-up made the connection, the robotic sound of “Welcome! You’ve Got Mail!” and the subsequent search for a chat room. My hour always passed far too quickly and my conversations with new friends were never quite long enough. It was a thrill to be able to connect with so many people without distance being a factor whatsoever.
We didn’t have DSL in our home until I was nearly seventeen. At that point I had moved from AOL to AIM, spending as much time as I could on the shared computer talking to people I can’t remember now. I joined MySpace back when you were only allowed 8 photos total and loved it up until Facebook was born and people started drifting its way. I’ve tried Facebook two or three times and each time it succeeded in annoying me into dropping off. When Twitter became a thing, I initially refused to join but reluctantly made an account after my husband. Now I’m a Twitter addict, no denying it.
My biggest problem with Facebook is that it’s all about you, and not in a good way. You can post a thousand photos of yourself from the same damn angle but in slightly different lighting and have your friends “like” it and comment on “omg how pretty” you look, giving your ego a boost it probably hasn’t earned and definitely doesn’t need. You can post a whiny status update and people will flock to it with words of concern, or post one you see as clever and watch as the Likes roll in. It’s a giant attention-getting game that serves no real purpose. That aside, how much time can a person spend looking up exes and marveling over how fat old classmates have gotten? I’m not knocking anyone for simply being on Facebook, I just can’t subject myself to that petty world where 90% of the people I communicate with will annoy me or hit on me. Or both.
Twitter limits your rants and raves to a tiny 140 characters (unless you’re one of those rule breakers that use TwitLonger or another similar service) and lacks the Like feature, opting instead for Retweets and Favorites. You can check this in your activity line and choose to receive emails whenever someone likes your comment enough to share it or favorite it, but it’s mostly behind-the-scenes unless one of your followers opts to open your Tweet and see the activity on it. Unless you’re really bored, there’s no reason to do this and it doesn’t automatically show up, so if you want attention you had better be truly clever right off the bat.
Another feature I enjoy is the follow process. Unless you have locked your tweets and made your page private, you don’t have to wait for approval to follow anyone or accept/deny those who wish to follow you. There’s little awkwardness and more flexibility since having someone follow you does not mean you must follow them back or even acknowledge you noticed them in the first place.
Since Twitter is as easy as sending a text, all the extremely busy folk out there can afford to take 30 seconds out of their day to throw an update up. This makes it much easier for celebrities to manage their own accounts instead of having their people do it and gives the fans a much more personal connection with them. Right now, Gordon Ramsay is following me back, as is the comedian Ralphie May and Mandy Suiter of Noctura. Kevin Smith also Favorited one of my tweets. I’ve been able to talk directly to the DJs over at X103, talk with my favorite Masterchef Ben Starr, and communicate with Nick Santora and Domenick Lombardozzi who currently are busy working on Breakout Kings. That’s just naming a few and isn’t bragging at all because it’s honestly not too hard to get your favorite famous face to turn your wait for a brief moment. This is something I’ve never been able to accomplish with Facebook or MySpace, although I did have a conversation with Vanilla Ice once. We stopped, he collaborated, I listened. Sorry, horrible joke.
Social media should be a place we connect and share, laugh and joke, make plans and new friends. It shouldn’t be a one man/woman show where the goal is to get as many eyes on your silly photos or tired musings as possible. It should be a place where creativity matters, not where mediocrity is celebrated. Most of all, it should be fun. What is fun about scrolling through photos of every ex you can find and telling friends how ugly their new boy/girlfriend is? Or stealing a clever quip from someone because you’re after tons of Likes and comments? Commenting on a celebrity page and having to return to their page over and over in the hopes that they respond to your comment? It all adds up to a waste of time.
Twitter may not be the greatest thing out there, but it’s allowed my husband and I to make connections we wouldn’t have made otherwise while still holding on to our self-respect and not trolling people’s pages in search of drama. It allows us to be publicly visible as a couple which thankfully greatly reduces the frequency either of us are hit on; it takes big balls or a great amount of stupidity for a guy to drop “hey baby” nonsense on my page when my husband can see it all and will verbally assault him if needed. It also doesn’t require us to sit in front of a damn computer for hours a day in order to use the site to its full advantage or to make connections. It fits into our life instead of jeopardizing hours of our time. And while attention whores exist there just as they do with Facebook and other social media, they’re not the ones ruling the site.