April 21, 2017

Horse 2262 - Hello Facebook, From Twitter (And Blogger)

"You should like that reply. You do know Facebook etiquette, don't you?"

I asked a question on Twitter recently, knowing that someone on either Twitter or Facebook would know the answer, and within five minutes I got 22 replies which were all identical - "Yes." After seeing all of those replies coming from Twitter; I didn't really think to check Facebook. The truth is that I know very little about Facebook etiquette and that's mainly because I took a deliberate position a long time ago about how I'd use the two platforms.

Facebook acts as both a brag book of the things that your friends and family do, an echo chamber where you don't really hear from people who disagree with your political views and much to my annoyance, a place where you get invited to play games which I'd rather not play (I'm looking at you FarmVille). Mostly because I know a fair amount about how my brain operates (only as a user; I have no idea of how either the software or the hardware which runs it works at all), I know that Facebook could very easily become a massive time sink for me; as well as a source of sadness as everyone else has a lovely time on holidays and I do not.
Twitter on the other hand as a platform which was originally developed with the short messaging service on people's mobile phones in mind, is a place where everything runs far more quickly. Being the sort of lyrebird that I am, my Twitter feed is mainly composed of journalists, news outlets; as well as a few friends. My Twitter feed takes from sources on both sides of the political divide and thanks to the beautifully wonderful mechanic of the hashtag, you can peer right into the middle of some of the world's biggest flame wars.
If I fly Facebook Airlines I am reminded that I am not allowed beyond the curtain but if I choose to fly Air Twitter, I am reminded that we are flying on a Liberator bomber with no seats and which is constantly being shot at from all sides. On Facebook Airlines you are given carefully curated meals which everyone eats quietly (and then takes photographs of) but on Air Twitter the only thing on the menu is buns, so that the eternal bunfight goes on and you must contribute a bun¹.

An old proverb says that a picture paints a thousand words. I don't know how true that is because in our image saturated world, I am not sure if that holds up any more. I would rather read or write a thousand words which build or construct a picture than press a single button to do it for me. That isn't to say that photographs can not and don't have serious thought put into them; a photograph can be an extremely curated thing.  Facebook lends itself to a slideshow of carefully​ curated photographs but Twitter by virtue of only being 140 characters per message meant that the vast majority of users very quickly learnt that it was better suited to posting links where you'd find those thousands of words instead. Maybe this speaks to those key learning methods; I know that I am an audio rather than a visual person.
On the subject of "likes", there seems to be more of a neediness on Facebook than on Twitter. Twitter is far more cool about whether or not you like something. If you say something on Twitter or make a thing or find a thing, then the single heart button says "that's cool" and​ everyone moves on. Facebook gives you a range of emotions and then people expect you to feel all the feels. I have eyeballs where reds have decided to naff off and so I don't have the same sort of visual colour palette to see the world through as everyone else does. I also suspect that I don't have the same emotional palette to see the world through either. I have 16 colours where the rest of the world has 32-bit processing and potentially 2 million colours.

And then there is Twitter's most famous user: Donald Trump.
Godwin's Law says the longer that a conversation goes on, the more likely that either Hitler or the Nazis will be mentioned. If I may be so bold to hold out my own eponymous law, then Rollason's Law would say that the longer that a conversation about Twitter goes on, the more likely that Donald Trump will be mentioned. To be honest I don't know how many followers Donald Trump has on Twitter but I bet that it's more than Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber or Zayn Direction has now (please insert the latest hip and happening pop star here)².
In contrast, I bet that there aren't that many people who are actively friends with Donald Trump on Facebook but I bet that he's mentioned more there than he is on Twitter. Again I come back to this but Facebook appears to feed into people's confirmation biases more than Twitter does. Facebook's revenue model relies on looking at what you like and then giving you more of that. This seems to me like giving a fat kid cake and then wondering why they don't want to eat vegetables. I suspect that because Twitter users are fed a constant diet of bitter melon and thistles, they're less likely to be as trusting of what comes through.
This has been of much discussion over the past few months, where users of Facebook have found that family relationships in particular are somewhat strained and discussions are heated. In that strange world of 2006, these sort of conversations were tempered by people's expressions and tone of voice around dinner tables but a decade later, text is unable to convey restraint and everything becomes the extreme version of itself. On Twitter, right from the start people knew that they could stare directly into a firestorm and this was just part of the landscape.

There's a thing that I actively don't like about Facebook and that is the way that it embeds video and doesn't​ return revenue to the video's creators like Twitter does. Twitter has no proprietary player and YouTube videos will either be embedded as is or will click you through to YouTube. Facebook will not. I want YouTube creators to keep on making stuff that I like and to do that, they need advertising revenue. I personally love advertising for two reasons: firstly it pays for my entertainment and secondly, it pays for the food on creators' tables. If Facebook's own player doesn't return revenue to video's creators, then it may as well be stealing the bread from people's table.

If you are reading this blog post, then according to my analytics, you are more likely to be a Twitter user than a Facebook user. My Twitter output is set up so that undirected tweets get posted to Facebook in lieu of me needing to log in there. That's why you'll occasionally see strings of hashtagged tweets appear; especially during QandA on ABC 1 on Monday nights. As an aside, QandA has often been the world's No.1 trending thing on Twitter; much to the confusion of many people throughout the world³.
Do I know Facebook etiquette? Well, not really. Facebook is a social network whereas Twitter is more of a snark network which also serves as  news platform. This is more asking if I am a dog person or a cat person; I know I am a cat person. Follow me on Twitter, my handle is @rollo75 The cool cats are on Twitter; they generally don't like very much.

¹Apologies to "O Me! O Life!", Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1892) - https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/51568
²Trump is no.42. Beyonce: 115 (yes), Lady Gaga: 8 (no), Justin Bieber 2 (no), Zayn Direction 63 (yes).
³We'll take that as a comment.

1 comment:

JO said...

I bet you only know about this poem because of the Apple iPad Air ad.