Twitter, Facebook, Spaces, and Limits

Twitter has always seemed to me to be the height of egocentrism. Why would anyone, even my close friends, be interested in what I’m thinking 24 hours a day? That’s why until this class, I fervently stuck to Facebook alone, and even then I went months at a time without logging on.

I told myself Facebook wasn’t like Twitter because there were so many more ways to interact with people. But really, instead of Twitter being a boiled down Facebook, I think Facebook is a glorified Twitter. For the longest time imaginable (until about two weeks ago) I absolutely refused to believe that any sort of serious writing could take place on either one. I’m willing to admit I was wrong.

I once took an autobiographical writing class in which we had to come up with a “Six Word Memoir” that summed up our entire lives. Mine, appropriately enough, was “wrong many times, admitted it once” (though, now I suppose it’s twice.) Trying to summarize my entire life in six words was one of the most interesting writing projects I’ve ever encountered. This is one of the biggest advantages of Twitter, and I would say the biggest disadvantage of Facebook.

Twitter forces you to be concise. Anyone can do that, but as a writer, you must also find ways to be witty, original, and provocative. You should make every Tweet meaningful and as intriguing as a six word memoir; even though your writing is confined, it should be crafted well enough to gain followers.

Facebook doesn’t place this limitation on you. You can ramble on for ages, and I must admit, the moment I see someone has posted something longer than a paragraph, I typically check out. Because of this lack of limitation, Facebook is a breeding ground for false information (way too many of my friends post way too many chain letters.) The one place I have to give Facebook credit is the Notes section. The ability for a writer to share a piece of creative writing, a personal story, or just some information with specific people is a great tool. You can draft, edit, repost – it’s a miniature blog on your Facebook, except most people don’t post consistently, and instead of trying to get followers, you decide who you want to see it by tagging them. This is the one advantage Facebook has over Twitter, the ability to share longer, drafted and revised works with a carefully selected audience. Twitter is challenging with its 140 character limit, but there are times when larger spaces are needed.

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2 responses to “Twitter, Facebook, Spaces, and Limits

  • eabates

    I feel as though I should have read your blog before posting my much more unprofessional response to Twitter/Facebook. But, if we posted similar entries I suppose that would take away from the point of this exercise.
    I can strongly agree with you with the limitations of Twitter. In fact, I’m having trouble thinking of intelligent things to write on Twitter for this class alone. That said, these limitations are more of a challenge than a handicap as long as I try to look at it from that perspective. I, like you, only ever used Facebook so this is challenging me in the same ways it has you. I only hope we find the inspiration (and drive) to tweet on a regular basis.

  • Heather M

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought of both Twitter and Facebook as narcissistic and egocentric. I went through a break-up with both sites before classes and annoyed friends pressured me back on each site. I completely understand your thought process. The idea of those sites lacking “serious writing” is what turns people off to the idea. The problem with that mindset is that the seriousness exists, but maybe not in your specific group of friends/followers/followees.
    I started looking at it this way: if someone has a reason to be on Facebook or Twitter outside of using it as a sort of online diary of daily events, then it can be a good source of information and a way to build up a professional network of contacts. Finding a reason to be on the sites, and figuring out how to properly fulfill that reason, is the difficult part.

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