Free Me From Farmvilling Facebookers: How Twitter Cured My Facebook Blues

Posted: July 17, 2010 in Technology
Tags: , , , ,

At the time of this writing, I am currently involved in no less than ten conversations. No, not with my other personalities.

On Twitter.

I am not what would normally be described as an early adopter. I bought my first computer after the Y2K scare (heh), my first Playstation after the PS2 was already making creaking noises and as for my first iPod, well, let’s just say that the Apple “geniuses” snicker at me every time I bring my iPhone 3G in for repairs (I bought it six months ago). I, typically, have to be dragged kicking and screaming, along with the rest of the Neanderthals, into each new shimmering technological dewdrop as though the dew in question was made of Sarin gas.

And yet, I can find almost none of my friends™ (friends™ used here to describe either people who invite me to play Mafia Wars no matter how many hundreds of times I’ve declined, or that nice Russian lady who keeps emailing me to ask if I’ll please marry her and provide the 50000 rubles required for her to immigrate to Canada) using Twitter which, in my humble opinion, is the greatest thing to happen to the Internet since…well, since the Internet.

A little background.

I am part of the last generation that had to choose between typing up a class paper on an electric typewriter or a 90s era PC. I am constantly astounded to find that there are people old enough for nipple piercings that stare blankly at me if I use the phrase, “mix tape.” Prior to Facebook (MySpace completely skipped me by like I had social networking herpes) my use for the internet was strictly limited to the following:

1) Porn
2) Illegal downloads
3) Slandering others, semi-anonymously
4) Porn

And then a friend™ of mine suggested, by sending me roughly nine million email invites, that I join Facebook. So I gave it a try. And it was awesome. Here was a use for the Internet I could get behind. I could find and collect friends™ that I hadn’t seen or spoken to since elementary school, harass and be harassed by ex-girlfriends, trade pictures of drunken exploits and generally just…poke and throw sheep at people.

My interest waned quickly.

Facebook tried its best of course. Like any lover who feels the magic slipping away, it tried on different and exotic clothing (aesthetic redesigns), tried to play games with me (Farmville, Text Twist, Trivia, ???? Wars, Family Feud etc.), encouraged experimentation (friends™ you might know), and even, in a creepy stalker type move, tried to claim me utterly as its own property (draconian copyright terms). Alas, it was all to little avail. The thrill of digital sheep chucking whilst thinking up witty labels for generic pictures of drunks mating at the zoo and randomly changing my relationship status to provoke fights in my real™ life lost its subtle charms. Also, you know, it got boring.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have a Facebook account; it’s a fantastic way of sharing pictures with friends™ and relatives (mind you Flickr would accomplish that just as well), chatting at random hours with whomever’s online (meh, I have Messenger) and indulging my voyeuristic inclinations…nope nothing has Facebook beat there. But what’s the point of it all? At what point does showing off my ability to digitally grow carrots cease to be any different from spamming my friends™ with Viagra emails? Does anyone really care? Should I? Oh God, is there something wrong with me because I don’t?

That’s really all that keeps me from deleting my account altogether. It’s that nagging voice that Facebook insisted on installing in my brain when I signed the EULA. What if, by ending my participation in the greatest social experiment EVAR, I lose all contact with the outside world? Who the hell uses a phone anymore? People™ just send you an invite to an event on Facebook and heaven help you if you miss it. I’ve even seen a wedding change venue with no more notification than an adjustment to the address line on the FB event page. Two hours before the wedding.

For awhile I lived in a type of online limbo. I wandered drunkenly through the barren wastelands of Wikipedia, searching for a little meaning. I experimented with going outside again (shudder). I even went back to the roots of all and meandered through some message boards, but there I found no one but slobbering hippies, high on their bourgeois, liberal elitism.

I never thought I’d love again. And then I found Twitter and saw in it what I’d been missing all these years.

The internet was supposed to be the greatest communications tool ever. It was supposed to bridge the gap between us all, translate thought into action, and bind us together under a global umbrella. Instead we got 2 girls 1 cup, Justin Bieber and Tucker fucking Max.

But I tell ya, Twitter? It’s the start of everything the ‘net was supposed to be.

I can follow anyone I want, I can interact with anyone I want,(even if I’m not following them) and I’m finally compiling information on any subject I want from more sources than I would ever need. Gone are the days of watching my friend count; here I choose how many people appear in my feed, not the other way around. If someone starts producing garbage, I can choose to chuck them out with it; if they produce gold I can share it with anyone who finds me interesting enough to follow.

Twitter isn’t an app or a game or a social experiment or a fucking farm, it’s a conversation. One giant, millions deep, tentacles of death and wings of angels conversation. It meanders and it jumps cliffs; it leaves you scratching your head and it keeps going while you sleep. It’s always on; feeding on and pumping out information and, if you’re not getting enough, just add more people.

That’s the key though, people. Not people™. Twitter is people at their best and worst. People sharing insight and ignorance, information and gossip, fact and opinion. At its best it gives me a never ending stream of brain food; at its worst it allows me to vent my frustrations on strangers who should know better. There are lots of those, to be sure. Because, again, and like Soylent Green, Twitter is people. And sometimes people suck, but you never really get a feel for how many of us there are when you’re playing in an insulated digital bubble.

Facebook, on a certain level, is about peeking in on people’s lives and exposing your own. Twitter is about peering into people’s brains and rooting around for sunken treasure.

I hope more of my friends™ discover it, drop their digital trowels and join in on a truly immersive chat with millions of strangers, making them all friends in truth. Being an early adopter can be lonely, but here we can all be lonely together.

Come on in folks, the water’s fine.

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