When I joined Facebook five years ago, it was because of a boy. I’d been invited about five times – by five different people. I was pretty green back then, and it looked as silly as MySpace, so ignored it. Eventually, this one boy who lived halfway across the world posted birthday pictures. I hadn’t seen him in five years, and the only way to see the pictures was to join, so I did.
The boy was my brother, and that’s an awful lot of fives.
I spent the first few weeks ranting about how complex it all was and how I didn’t get it. My brothers – and pals twice my age – declared me too old for Facebook. I posted maybe once a month and logged in even less. Yes, it’s possible.
Once, I had a prolonged coffee high. I posted every day, and sometimes, I wrote every five minutes. Those were two very interesting weeks, and I spent more time there than I had in two years … combined. I call that my manic phase. The Twitter version of that was … scary.
I deleted my Facebook account twice because I wasn’t using it much. Deleting meant erasing every friend, photo, and status update before killing the account, so each time I rejoined, I started the friends list afresh – and left out a few people. Wasn’t intentional – it’s just hard to keep track.
Some people complained after adding me four times, others whined that I had left them out, and some I couldn’t find at all. They’d changed their Facebook names. I also had to use new emails each time, because my old ones were still in the database. Luckily, I have fifteen to choose from.
Twitter was pretty much the same. I joined for a boy, deleted for a boy, rejoined for another boy, and am posting for a fourth boy. I used to tweet a hundred times a day, and I accumulated 5,000 tweets in 3 months before my last deletion. I’ve had 6 different accounts, and each time I leave, I wipe it clean. This time, I’ve built up barely 1000 tweets in six months. *shrug* But at least I’m having fun with it.
Interestingly, people say far smarter things on Twitter than they do on Facebook, even when they have parallel accounts. Maybe it’s because we’re trying harder to impress strangers. Your FB friends already know how dense you are, but Twitter timelines are a whole new ballgame. Or something.
Facebook is way more detailed than Twitter, mostly because there are more pictures. Most people use their real names and connect with friends, colleagues, and family. Twitter is a touch more secure because people use nicknames, and few avatars involve their real likeness. Even if you use your photo as an avatar, the timeline shows a quarter inch shot that is pretty hard to recognise … unless you really want to … in which case, you can click on the tiny head shot and get a larger image. Maybe.
Twitter should – logically – be more anonymous than Facebook, and in some ways, it is. I mean, if I use a handle like @bigfattyjunkkid then nobody will know I’m a closet body builder. Or if I call myself @supersexydiva, nobody would think I’m a … boy.
But people are … not very smart … sometimes. You use a misleading username, then you tweet your location on Foursquare. And there’ll always be that nosy person peeking over your shoulder in a cyber or public transport, and they won’t always introduce themselves.
Another scary thing is this. On Facebook, you can usually tell when your mum becomes your friend. You can refuse and earn her wrath, or you can accept and up your privacy settings. Did you know you can fix different levels of accessibility for individual Facebook friends? Like, for example, Mr X can see my status reports, Mr B can see my photo tags, and Miss C can see my lewd photos, yet they’re all on the same friends list.
No, I don’t have lewd photos on Facebook. Shut up.
On Twitter, conversely, your mum just has to sign up as @foxymama and she has access to all your random vibe. Assuming of course she knows your username. That hot tweepette you’re flirting with could actually be your …
But all this is beside the point. Most tweeps are anonymous. With time, they meet up and the cloaking device is gone, but until then, people are free to say outrageous, nasty, insensitive things because no one knows who they are. It can get pretty annoying.
Still … once in a while, I long for anonymity. My life and my PC are intertwined, so my online persona feeds my offline one. My tweets, blogs, quotes, and Facebook statuses are linked, and they can all be viewed by friends, foes, clients, mother … and daughter. So every once in a while, I think of getting new ID so I can talk trash online. Sadly, I’m not very good at spy stuff, so I’d likely bust myself on Foursquare.
I wonder if it’s possible to have a secret Twitter timeline, one with no followers. I could say anything I want and nobody could judge me. But then again, venting isn’t half as fun when no one hears it.