(note: This is rambling and slightly off-base.)
When I was younger, my freshman year of college specifically, I joined Facebook. This was back when the layout was unfriendly and people still thought Pokes were a cool way to communicate. For the first few months I avidly played around with the status updates, some games, and sending people whatever Facebook suggested I send them (like a virtual pie, pet, flaming bag of poo… the works). I even played Farmville for about a week. After the novelty wore off, I moved to just status updates, pictures, and the occasional posted link.
As for Twitter, my relationship with that is odd. The first time I made a Twitter account on my own I started so I could follow people that I admired. Eventually, I started following some friends and tweeting here and there, mostly things I deemed unworthy for Facebook. This was before I used this medium for class, mind you.
About two years ago, I decided I hated both Facebook and Twitter. It was like a switch went off in my head and I noticed how absolutely narcissistic these things were. Who cares what you ate for breakfast? Does anyone really want to know which sitcom you are? Who wants to see 10 pictures of your cat a day? (Okay, I still kind of enjoyed that last one.) I deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts, but two weeks later was bullied by “friends” who I never saw in real life to bring them back online just to talk to people. I tried to pretend everything was okay, but it was a struggle for me to post anything on either because a little voice in the back of my mind just kept saying, “You sound so narcissistic. Who cares? Would you get annoyed reading this?”
Then I had to use Twitter for a class. I found this idea completely horrorshow. Something strange happened during that class. As I started tweeting daily and talking to people in my professional network, as per assignments, I found myself also tweeting things that were happening to me, or random thoughts, or pictures of my cat. I started doing the same on Facebook, though mostly posting links on there. When I noticed this, I was shocked. Not because I was actually posting, but because I didn’t feel like a horrible narcissistic human being anymore.
It took a while for me to come to terms with this, and I still get annoyed with things people post on both sites. After a bit of soul searching, I discovered that when I felt like I was posting/tweeting to a cause, like genuinely talking to friends or networking with followers, I felt good about those posts/tweets. I wasn’t just talking about what I had for lunch, I was stating a case for a new restaurant that I wanted my friends to visit. I wasn’t just tweeting a link about writing, I was trying to connect with the writer of that blog to build a professional network.
I guess what I’m trying to say through all of this is that if you have a goal when using social networking, then it’s an awesome tool. If you don’t have a goal, or your goal is to get people to pay attention to you in vapid, inconsequential ways (the famously vague “Life sucks.” posts begging for comments) then you may feel good about yourself, but what are other people really thinking? Eventually you may wake up one morning, read your Facebook timeline and say, “What was I thinking? Who cares?”