The Nine Reasons Why Twitter is Better Than Facebook
Usually when people find out that I’m on Twitter, their reaction is, “I don’t understand Twitter. I never know what to say.”. Or they spend ten minutes telling me that they don’t understand what Twitter is for. What gets me is that a lot of the people who tell me this are also people I have on my Facebook friends list, so I see what they post in a normal day. So the logic about not having anything to say pretty much goes out the window. I mean (trust me, I’m not trying to offend anyone here…this is just perspective), when you spend your precious Interwebs time posting about how much you hate Obama and how much you’re looking forward to starting your new job spoon-feeding seniors at the nursing home, and all on Facebook, I think getting some online perspective about the quality about what you choose to post online is in order.
I think the reason most people are intimidated by Twitter is that they doubt and question that they would have anything worthwhile to say. And what totally confuses me is that I know a lot of these people in the real world, and they’re some of the most funny and articulate people I know. So I thought I’d come up with a list of the nine reasons why Twitter is better than Facebook, because over the past two months, I’ve found myself using Twitter so much more than Facebook, and while I still use Facebook to stay in touch with people, I don’t really miss it that much. I even had to disconnect my Twitter feed from updating my Facebook because I was seriously blowing up my news feed. So approach these reasons with an open mind, because they’re totally valid and highlight just why Twitter is such a valuable tool.
#1. Twitter is really nothing more than a venue for your stream of consciousness.
Now, I know there’s literature out there that says “Make sure your tweets mean something. Don’t post mindless drivel.”. But I’m telling you, the more time you spend thinking about how your tweets come across, the less interesting they’ll be. It’s like trying to come up with the perfect pick up line; you’re gonna sound like a tool and she’s not gonna care. So relax and just tweet whatever comes across your mind. The best tweets are the ones that just occur spontaneously and make you stop when you run across them in your feed. You could post like this on Facebook, but no one’s going to stop and give that post any thought. Not when the next person in their feed has posted the latest Annoying Orange or Dancing Cats video. And that stuff is pretty easily skipped over on Twitter, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
#2. You are in WAY more control over what you see on Twitter than on Facebook.
So you got a friend request on Facebook from your old high school flame or that cute girl that works down the hall. So, yeah, you click “accept” because you’re interested in getting to know them a little bit better. Turns out, though, that you really wish you hadn’t. After the 11th or 111th post about how awesome their new car is, or the same number of posted bible verses, you shake your head and hide them from your feed. On Twitter, however, you’re a lot more active in selecting who you have in your Twitter feed. Plus it’s just a matter of checking out their previous tweets to see what they’re about before you decide to follow them. There’s none of this friend request business; you just try out their feed by following them for a few days and decide if they’re worth keeping up with. This way, you get an idea of what someone on Twitter is about; you have no idea what you’re in for when you accept a friend request on Facebook.
*extrapolation: Some of you, at this point, might choose to stand up and scream, “But I KNOW the people I’m friends with on Facebook in real life!”. Okay, granted, but….(really deep breath) NO YOU DON’T. Creating an online identity provides an outlet for, I dunno, say 75% of the people on this dustball that keep all kinds of things shut up inside when they’re out in public, but the moment they’re alone in that room with the washing machine next to the PC, they start saying all kinds of wild and wacky shit. I recently kicked an Army Officer from my hometown off of my Facebook because of the ignorant political statements he was posting. I’m talking about a West Point graduate. One would think, given his education and position of leading troops into combat, he might act, oh I don’t know…RESPONSIBLY or INTELLIGENTLY. Nope. Home fry was a real mouth drooler. Online, you get to see the sides of people you didn’t know they had. Enough extrapolation.
#3. All that stupid crap you hate about Facebook? It’s not on Twitter.
So you hate the new Facebook changes. The janitor at 7-11 keeps asking you to help out his pigs on Farmville. Your ex posted the pictures you knew they were going to. The singles ads. Daily horoscope crap you hate waking up to. And from my own recent experience, a profile pic of a really ugly guy in a cowboy hat. NOT ON TWITTER!
#4. Twitter will actually inform you.
From my own list, I follow: News Scientist, Exoplanetology, Rachel Maddow, all the people occupying Wall Street (hey, I wanted to know what was going on, and the mainstream media wasn’t reporting squat), all of my favorite musicians, the Baltimore PD, local news, Starbucks, and a plethora of other things that I either enjoy, deal with, or have some relation to in my life. You can follow your favorite TV shows and get teasers and show times. I follow the White House. All of this information is nicely packed and shipped to one easy-to-use place. My Twitter feed. And since the tweets can’t be more than 140 characters, there’s not a whole lot of inane drivel to plow through (as there is on Facebook) to get to the good stuff. But there’s not a whole lot of pointless posting, which leads me to….
#5. Twitter is full of people who are ACTUALLY funny.
Zomg this could be a long list. I follow The Fake CNN, Fat Jew, Bluth Quotes, Conan O’Brian, Louis C.K., Jenny Wade, plus I just started following The (this is a fake Twitter account, but waaaay better than the real one) Herman Cain. He’s the Republican candidate for president with the 9-9-9 tax plan. Here’s one of his recent tweets: “Axis of Evil: 1. Muslims 2. Occupy Wall Street. 3. The Noid” (Cain is the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. The Noid was some type of evil pizza damaging villain in their commercials).
The great thing about Twitter humor is that it’s got to be quick and to the point. That’s awesome, ’cause you gotta hurry up and stash your phone before the boss comes back. But my feed cracks me up almost each time I check it, which considering working with the general public five days a week, I seriously need. Plus, if you’re gonna try to be funny on Twitter, you better think of a consise way to say it. 140 characters, people. If you can’t be funny within that limit, then just give it up. One tweet I recently posted, after seeing a sign at a gas station reading “Food Stamps Accepted Here” went something like this: “Sign at gas station: Food Stamps Accepted Here. WTF GAS IS NOT FOOD”. Now, that may not be funny to you, but it certainly was to me, which (please refer back to reason #1) is sort of the point to Twitter.
#6 Olivia Wilde
Yeah, so Twitter has celebrities. Unless they’re drug addicts, in trouble with the law, or way too important to communicate with the common folk, you’re probably reading whatever the REAL celebrity thinks. There have been major meltdowns and squabbles over Twitter (hey Kanye IMMA LET YOU TWEET), plenty of celebrities say ridiculously idiotic things, and other celebs talk about what the sky looks like today, and that’s the norm. You read some celebrities’ tweets and you realize why they went in to the entertainment business: no one would pay these people to do anything else. Some celebrities act like you’re privileged to be in the presence of their Twitter account, i.e. CHECK ME OUT I’M TOTALLY AWESOME. Those sorts of tweets get old, fast.
Olivia Wilde is the exception. I’ve been a House fan for years, so when I saw that Ms. Wilde had a twitter feed, I decided to give it a shot. That was almost a year and a half ago. The first tweet I ever saw from her had something to do with how awesome the sunset over Santa Fe was, and how fortunate she felt to be there to see it. When she’s funny, she’s intelligent about it. Some celebrities talk about how great their lifestyles are; she talks about the causes, such as disaster relief in Haiti, that she supports. I don’t profess to know her in any way, but you get the sense from her tweets that she’s just a normal person. Kinda like the rest of us. You just don’t see that coming out of Hollywood anymore. She posted recent pictures from her seat at a Radiohead concert, and she was…just a fan. It’s refreshing to realize that a celebrity out there still has class, still has a sense of self, and conducts themselves accordingly. Out of all the celebrities I follow on Twitter, Olivia Wilde is the only one whose tweets I make sure not to miss.
#7 People complain about the creepers on Facebook. You can’t creep on Twitter….
…..or, rather, an extremely limited form of creeping is sorta the point of Twitter. To explain: “creeping” is seen as a sort of online stalking these days, where someone is always on another’s Facebook page, commenting or memorizing or what-not. I’m always hearing from people that so-and-so creeped them (the complainer) on Facebook. What I’m sort of confused about is that you pretty much made your profile to be seen, didn’t you? But I’m getting off topic. On Twitter, yeah, anyone can see what you post, unless you chose the private account, but really, what can they glean from a few 140 character posts a day? If someone is creeping you on Twitter, then congratulations: you scored the laziest stalker award ’cause if checking your Twitter feed is all they got, the last thing you need to worry about is catching them outside of your house in the bushes.
#8. Twitter, if you get into it, makes you really creative. And original.
Twitter has its own unique language. Relax, it’s not hard at all. Besides having you be brief and to the point (which, in of itself, is its own kind of creativity), Twitter uses hash tags (they look like this: #). Originally, they were meant to isolate and identify a particular topic of conversation. This way, if you knew people were talking about something, and you wanted to jump in, all you had to do was know the hash tagged topic and place it at the end of your tweet. Example: when the earthquake hit the East Coast two months ago, instead of checking the news, I jumped on Twitter and hash tagged the name of the town I was in (#Towson). The search brought up everything on Twitter that people had used that same hash tag for, and sure enough, people were tweeting about buildings shaking and the magnitude of the quake.
Now here’s the creative part. You can make up your own hash tags. Once you wind up having an inner Twitter circle of friends, this becomes loads of fun. It’s like being in on the joke. There’s plenty of room for word play, too. It’s almost like giving your tweet a creative signature. You can set up a joke in your tweet, hash tag the punch line, then if any of your followers laugh and like your tag, they can borrow it and use it for their own conversations. Which, of course, you can continue contributing to. I create all sorts of hash tags, for talking about people I shouldn’t be, for secret conversations, for new ways of expression, and for humor. Facebook just doesn’t allow for the same degree of originality or creativity.
#9. Facebook limits your online exposure; Twitter EXPANDS it.
Follow the train here: I started following Wil Wheaton (Star Trek TNG fame) because Twitter suggested him. His tweets are funny, geeky, plus he posts links to his blog, which I enjoy reading. But he was talking about someone named Marian Call one day, so, since I enjoy the estimable Mr. Wheaton’s posts, I checked out Marian’s Twitter account. Not only did I find a musician whose music I respect and admire, not only did I find someone honest enough to tweet about being awkward yet resilient, not only did I develop a new appreciation for Alaska, but I found an artist who won’t compromise her ideals for the sake of fame and money. Plus the conversation I had with her at one of her shows was pretty cool. She gets to do a lot of what she does BECAUSE of Twitter. My Twitter experience is full of these little moments of serendipity. Point being that if you get on there, try out a whole lotta different people, you’ve got a pretty high probability of getting into a lot of things you didn’t know were out there. People talk and share on Twitter, while on Facebook, it’s people showing stuff to people who already like that sort of thing. Or they’ve hidden those people in their news feed. Twitter will bring a lot of new and exciting things to you if you give it a shot. I, for one, get majorly bored a lot of the time. I got bored on a roller coaster once. So to have all of this stuff to check out while I’m waiting in line at Starbucks or at the eye doctor is pretty nifty. Or, in Twitter Speak: “ZOMG check this out (insert link) #kickass #woot”
There’s the list, and if I’ve managed to persuade a few of you to give Twitter a shot, here’s some advice. Don’t tweet anything your first week. Just get the free account and start following. Check out who Twitter suggests, follow them, then see who they’re following. Mix it up; don’t just follow rap stars and Whole Foods. Like an investment portfolio, DIVERSIFY. Check the feed a few times a day. Repost (retweet) something you like. Follow politicians in your area. Give it a little bit of time. You’ll probably enjoy it. And look me up at @lydiandude and follow me. It’s a lot more entertaining than Facebook, and the best part is, you don’t have to be reminded of how rich Mark Zuckerberg is.