Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

News Flash: Facebook is as Addictive as Twitter

Day One off Twitter was going pretty well. Why? Because there was still… Facebook.

When I decided to test my resolve with Twitter, I wasn’t worried about Facebook because, unlike many of you, I’m not addicted to Facebook. I can take it or leave it. I go days without going on Facebook. Sometimes, I can’t even think of a good status update.

(Mom, I’m sorry this post is going to sound like Chinese to you, but try to follow along. Think of Twitter and Facebook as the digital equivalent of cigarettes and hard liquor).

Facebook is not a “conversation,” and I am mostly addicted to talking in real time. The comments on Facebook come to you in familiar form, like in a blog post. You don’t have to rush to be there every minute or feel like you are missing out on important cultural information or the latest trend. I’m also comfortable being a “broadcaster” on Facebook, which means acting like one of those self-important jerks who sends out links and updates about myself, without caring much about any of you or what you have to say. I can separate myself from the mob.

This is impossible for me on Twitter. I care about complete strangers on Twitter. The interplay of words and emotions is so personal; it feels as if we are in bed together whispering secrets to each other. No wonder I am always making sexual innuendos! Despite Twitter’s reputation for being business and PR friendly, it is a place of intimacy, much more personal in content and concept than Facebook. The conversations seem “real,” and I always forget that 1000 other people are reading my words as I chat with someone about their marriage. You see this happen in real life, in crowded cafes in Manhattan, where the couple seated next to you speaks openly about personal matters, ignoring the fact that you are sitting five inches away, overhearing every word.

Facebook updates tend to be cheery, like “I rocked that new job interview.” Twitter tends to get more of the S.O.S. type of messages, such as, “My grandmother just collapsed! For heaven’s sake, send prayers from the almighty!” You have to be one f*cking cold person to not get involved with others on Twitter, unless your only role in life is to tell snarky one-liners. It is overwhelming, especially for neurotic, codependent types like myself. You need me. And I need you.

(Mom, I know this sound a little batty, but you know what I’m talking about. You’re always making fun of those people on the bus who constantly have their face in their phone, texting. This is what is happening to me!)

So Day One off Twitter was going well. I avoided Twitter. I updated my Facebook status instead… three times. I published a funny photo of Jesus dishes from the 99 cent store. I re-shared and mocked a link about bloggers and brands. I looked at Kyran’s new profile photo. I read about Kathy’s surgery. And then, holy shit, I understood what was going on — I was losing my status as a broadcaster and CARING ABOUT YOU FREAKING LOSERS on FACEBOOK. Am I that lonely? Am I that afraid of being alone?

PLEASE! Leave me alone. I have work to do.

New plan. Start over again. A week without Twitter AND FACEBOOK.

19 Comments

  1. I’ll save my irreverent reply for somewhere other than a blog, FB or Twitter. At this rate that’d be lunch @blogher ’11

  2. Note: I still shared this post on Twitter. Hey, I’m a lot of things, but not stupid. I understand the need to promote your posts.

  3. Don’t go away. We’ll miss you. We do miss you!

  4. I’ve SOS’d on Twitter many times. One time it nearly kept me from killing myself. Literally. So, there’s that…

    • By that I meant, kept me from nearly killing myself. Not that it almost kept me from killing myself, but I did it anyway. Obviously. I’m still here.

      • Have you seen my tweets in the last few weeks? All I do is come on with SOS messages, and everyone is so kind and supportive. But the whole thing also makes me uncomfortable. I don’t like the feeling of “needing” to be online for support. That seems unhealthy. At the same time, I owe others the same that they have given me.

        • Yes, but I enjoy (maybe enjoy isn’t the appropriate word) offering the support, even if it’s silently, because I know it will be there for me when I need it. Plus, Neil, it’s a way to connect. I know what you are going through at a certain time and I can think about you or pray for you and your situation throughout my day. It’s what I do for my face-to-face friends. Only, they text me or call me to let me know they need my thoughts and prayers.

  5. Yes, dump Facebook. It’s no good! (I say this because I don’t get it. I don’t want to be friends with people that wouldn’t speak to me in high school.)

    So what are you working on?

  6. You stop chatting on IM. Then, you quit sending e-mails. What’s next? Talking on the phone, and posting letters by snail mail?

  7. I’ve found I have started using Facebook a lot more, all the kids are on it and my Dad just joined too, Twitter I’m an occasional user. Good luck with staying away from them.

  8. I don’t think it’s so awful to care about people, especially if one of those people is me. It doesn’t mean you can’t stand to be alone. Although, I don’t know. Can you stand to be alone?

    Balance, Neil. Did you guys cover that in Zen meditation or is that for the next level?

  9. A brilliant summation of the tweeting phenomenon. If it’s even that.

    I’ve had too much to drink. Please bear with my ramblings. (Well, and I got up FAR too early to go RUNNING, what a monstrous waste of time THAT was, bleah.)

    (I’m not kidding about any of that. Running? Waste of time. Doing it again? Absolutely. Too much drink in my belly? Oh, definitely. Rambler? Yep.)

    p.s. You’re neat-o. Whee!

  10. Twitter is like a mob at a stadium–everyone’s talking but I’m not sure anyone is listening. Most of the time, it feels like a lot of disembodied chatter to me, and I hate getting caughting in the crossfire of other’s people extensive and often personal conversations. Some people treat it like IM and I hate that.

    Facebook is more like walking into a coffee shop frequented by your favorite people. For me, it’s far more personal and the comment threads can be fast and funny and much easier to follow. It’s my way of staying in touch with some of my closest friends in real life and with family.

    Every time I get booted off of Twitter for one reason or another and have to log in again, I pause and think, Do I even WANT to log in? Recently I’ve gone for long periods without being on Twitter and not cared at all.

  11. I loved this post b/ c as is typical of you, it’s honest and right to the point. You hit the nail on the head with this one. I love the intimacy of Twitter. I agree it’s much more in the moment and being on it has helped me quite a bit through the last year.

  12. I tried to love Twitter. I really did. But the Big Brother interweb filter at the hospital where I work blocks Twitter. So, I could only do it at night. And when I would log on, I felt that feeling of walking up to a conversation right after it just got interesting, and I’m standing there smiling like an idiot.

  13. I support your “break”. Both Twitter and FB are huge distractions for me. I enjoy getting to know people better and reconnecting with old friends, but my nosy human nature is killing me. I lurk when I don’t have the time or energy to engage with people, then I feel badly, then I hate that I didn’t get things done around the house or other work done. I rarely go on Twitter, am trying to be disciplined about FB, and have even cleaned out my Reader. Good luck! [And get your work done! :)]

  14. Update. This is extremely difficult. I might need to unplug from the internet completely today. My body is shaking and I have started smoking, drinking, using cocaine, and sleeping with hookers to compensate, and you know what — it still doesn’t satisfy my urges for Twitter and Facebook!

  15. I find it hard to be on Twitter when I’m feeling insecure b/c if people don’t tweet back, I get twitchy. Or I worry that if I reply to something they’ve tweeted, they will think, “uchh, this person again. Who is she???” It’s not very healthy.

    I agree w/ your thoughts on the difference between FB and Twitter, but I find that so odd, since my FB account is something I only use for people I interact/have interacted with in my daily life. So shouldn’t I share more with them? *shrug*

  16. Hi, I’m Becky, and I’m a Twitter/FB addict.
    I have both on my Tweetdeck and that is the 2nd thing I open on my computer when I get to work every morning. First being my feed reader.
    Scratch that…
    Hi. I’m Becky and I’m addicted to the internet.

    (You’d think I’d blog more then, huh?)

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