Social media applications, like the people who use them, have distinct personality characteristics. Finding social media that fits your distinct preferences, needs and desires can be a bit like dating. Some types of social media are immediately off-putting. Other platforms may require more time to decide whether the match is good, and can ultimately lead to a break-up. Likewise, some people move promiscuously from one form to another, enchanted by flashy new capabilities and interfaces, while others settle in for the long ride with the tried and true. When you find The One you want to put yourself into, you know it. Opinions on social media are often individualized and strongly held; my experiences with a selection of popular social media platforms follow.
Facebook is where you socialize with former classmates, cousins and in-laws. You go there so people you barely remember can comment on your current life. Facebook provides a venue for getting annoyed at people who no longer matter in your life. Unless one manages friends with groups and filters, Facebook forces a uniform persona to be presented to all facets of one’s life. A useful aspect of Facebook is that friends will often tell you what to post “if you agree” in efforts to raise awareness about things like diseases or mothers. So, Facebook is good for people who get writer’s block when it comes to status updates.
Twitter is an enigma with its low-tech interface and its often high-tech users. Twitter is like an updated Usenet without the defined newsgroups. Twitter has a spontaneous, open, freely flowing vibe to it that I love, and it’s easy to engage interesting new people. You go to Twitter so you can meet people who like what you have to say, pre-coffee and all. Twitter is for making friends and connections. I may be biased since I have made friends on twitter who have become friends in real life. Twitter rules the school.
Google+ is so random strangers can find out your real name and stalk you. Actually, I don’t know why people go to Google+. I believe I am not alone in this. A potential benefit of Google+ is that it can be used to some degree as a Facebook do-over.
Linked In is like Facebook for professionals with fewer drunken photos. Linked In lets you put your CV or resume on the internet to help identity thieves and former love interests more easily track you. Linked In provides the optimal embarrassment factor as you disclose your summer job as a benthic macroinvertebrate sorter. I have a fake Linked In account under the name Aurora Borealis in which I earned a degree at Azusa Pacific University. I have had requests from former classmates seeking to make a Linked In connection with me based on our shared fabricated university days. This proves that you can’t believe anything you read on the internet.
Foursquare is a game played with potential burglars to see if they can get to your house and rob you before you get back home again. Foursquare can also be used to brag that you’re at that swank new restaurant. There is potential for Foursquare to be social given the possibility for a “me too!” moment, but then if you’re at that swank new restaurant do you really want to be hanging out with someone playing Foursquare?
Plurk, MySpace, Classmates, and countless others popping up all of the time…I never understood you, or saw the value that you brought, or maybe I just spent too much time tweeting to check you out.