Facebook and Twitter Go Together Like Hand and Glove

by Liz Colville

Digital Surgeons did some research on the state of Facebook and Twitter in 2010, and the results, gigantically pictured here, show that the two social media services could merge and/or have a child without too much trouble or nuisance to any of their users. Except no, I hope that doesn’t happen, because as Jenna Wortham astutely wrote in the Times yesterday, most of us like to keep our online identities separate. You and your friends might all be on Twitter, but/so that doesn’t mean you want each other’s complete Twitter feeds showing up on Facebook. But maybe you all only joined Twitter so you could read the feeds of the pioneer friends who joined Twitter first? In which case, my brain just exploded.

The reality may just be that the users of Facebook and Twitter are close to the exact same bunch of people: fairly well-off, well-educated or in the process of being educated, addicted to the Internet, slightly more female than male (those chatterbox females), of childbearing age, and a little more interested in following a brand on Facebook than on Twitter. This last is slightly curious, at least at first glance: Facebook allows brands to drone on and on for more than 140 characters. But people’s information is easier to dodge on Facebook: read it at your leisure, or in the randomly prioritized order in which the Wizard of Oz decides to show it to you, rather than chronologically, as on Twitter (unless you use Twitter’s “favorite” and/or “list” features, in which case, you are highly evolved).

But how are we spending our time on these sites? Time on Twitter almost always feels useful to me, but Facebook is about 80 percent sitting there and tinkering: trying to figure out the privacy settings, which still infuriate me; looking at one’s profile from the outside to make sure the privacy settings are doing what you think they are; deleting stupid shit that you have “liked”; deleting the announcements that you have changed your profile picture seven times today; wondering why you are messaging someone whose e-mail address you definitely have (“This just seems cooler and more aloof”); de-friending old friends; friending strangers. All in a day’s work.