I was more than a little skeptical of Facebook and Twitter when I first joined each of those services. I thought that there was no way I would actually find them helpful or even use them on a regular basis. In fact, I was pretty certain that I would play around with each of them a bit at first but quickly abandon them.
So how did they work out? Well, as any reasonable adult knows, things don’t always play out the way you imagine they will. And there are time you just have to admit to yourself that you were wrong.
But this is not one of those times.
I basically use both services about as much as I imagined I would, which is very little. I occasionally use Facebook to check in on a friend or family member. I think I’ve even sent birthday wishes to people two or three times. But for the most part, I don’t interact with the Facebook community. This isn’t entirely a bad thing since it would almost certainly get ugly if I ever responded to any damned Farmville requests.
Twitter has proven to be even less useful for me. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking when I set up an account. The only conceivably useful application I’ve found for it is to include my tweets on the blog as a replacement for aside style posts. But I really can’t stand with way it handles links, so I’ve not really been utilizing it very much.
So why have neither of the services managed to catch my fancy? I’ve thought about the issue for a while, and I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that question. It wasn’t too difficult to figure out really. The primary issue with the tools is pretty obvious. How obvious? Well it’s pretty much spelled out in the category into which both tools fall.
Both Facebook and Twitter are example of social media. The key work here is “social”. The idea that someone who is so anti-social that he occasionally avoids talking to himself would ever become a regular user of any social media is pretty laughable on its face.
Twitter thrives on lots of people making short observations that are then commented on by lots of other folks. The comments are then commented on by even more people. There also seems to be a great deal of back-and-forth between users as well. Now I can handle the “forth” part and maybe even the occasional “back” bit, but “back-and-forth” comes dangerously close to an actual conversation, so I really don’t see the point. If I actually wanted to talk to people, why get on the intenet in the first place?
But as useless as I’ve found Twitter to be, it’s still not as irritating as Facebook. My problems with Facebook are the direct result of my aforementioned anti-social nature. But the problem is that I’m not anti-social enough. Otherwise I’d be much more prone to ignoring friend requests. So, to avoid offending people that I haven’t seen in a couple of decades and probably will never see again, I generally accept any and all requests.
This leads to the situation where I have a list of “Facebook friends” the majority of whom I never actually interact with in any way. I’m no expert on sociology or human interaction in general, but this seems like a pretty ridiculous situation to me. On the other hand quite a few of my Facebook friends are old high school classmates I didn’t really talk to back then.
So in a way I’ve managed to use Facebook to create a virtual recreation of my social life during my teens. When I look at it that way, the situation isn’t quite as ridiculous after all. Instead it’s just sort of soul-crushingly sad.