Wherein I Settle the Question of Facebook vs. Twitter

Actually, I won’t be settling that question, which is closing in on “Which is the one true faith?” on the  Useless-Discussion-Prompt-O-Meter. But, in response to Mary Elizabeth Williams’s “Your Friend List Is Too Big”, I felt a need to delineate how I use what I use in social media.

I have five main social media platforms. Two of them–@MMIPmedia and a company Facebook page–are MMIP related. They announce MMIP publications, changes to submission guidelines, and promotional discounts. A third platform is my Facebook fan page. The fourth is my author twitter feed, and the last is my personal Facebook account. (I won’t count Google+ for now, because I’m not yet sure what to do with it. And I won’t count Linkedin because aside from professional endorsements that no one ever sees, I’m not particularly active.)

The Facebook fan page and the @snowdenlit twitter feeds are public platforms closely connected to the blog. Both have a publicity component to them, though I try not to make them exclusively, or even mostly, about plugging my books. They’re places for my audience, or people thinking about maybe possibly becoming interested in being in my audience, can interact with me about whatever captures our mutual interest on that day.

I have some friends from my personal Facebook account following my Facebook fan page as well, and a few who follow my twitter feed. But the twitter feed is mostly strangers, though several of them have, by dint of responses and retweets, risen to the rank of “friendly acquaintances”.

Those are my public spaces.

To be friended on my personal Facebook page, my policy is that I either have to know you or at least be feeling that slightly nauseating sensation that comes from being unable to remember if you’re telling the truth when you claim to know me. The difference between this and my Twitter feed lies in the difference between follower and friend. I don’t feel weird following a stranger on Twitter, for the same reason I don’t feel bad following The New York Times, or The Planetary Society, or Conan O’Brien. (That’s right. I don’t know them personally either.) Twitter is kind of a big meetup where people with common interests can gather and chatter and see if they can hold each others’ interest. Fine with me. But Facebook requires a declaration of friendship, and it seems presumptuous to just declare someone a friend. To friend a stranger seems needy in a way that following them doesn’t, and to be friended by a stranger makes me feel stalked in a way that the acquisition of a follower doesn’t.

It’s all about boundaries, and as a very territorial introvert, my boundaries are heavily patrolled. Those who cross illegitimately will find me in a seething, potentially homicidal snit. My Twitter following may continue to rise–I’d like it to–but my personal Facebook account will probably remain static or even shed friends as time goes on. Two thousand twitter followers sounds wonderful. Two thousand Facebook friends sounds like an affliction, the sign of a person not taking proper care of themselves.

Demonstrates the power of a single word, doesn’t it?

Mary Elizabeth Williams described Twitter as her stage, but Facebook as her home. That’s about right, but for me, not quite. My Facebook space is too large to be my home. If I caught all of my Facebook friends in my home at the same time, I’d probably be amused and amazed for about 10 minutes, then I’d have to be restrained from releasing the hounds. My Facebook page is more like the front door to my home. If you think you can come to it, knock, and stand a better than Mormon missionary’s chance of being invited in, by all means approach. Otherwise, try me on Twitter.*

*Or on Google+. Maybe if enough people go there, I’ll decide it’s worthwhile to start figuring out how it works.

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