The reciprocity of relationships is, in my opinion, the most fundamental difference between Facebook and Twitter. On Facebook, both sides need to agree before the connection is made. On Twitter, people can follow whoever they like.
Does this make Twitter more “social”? I think it might.
I’m writing in broad terms, since different people use the services in different ways, but this makes Twitter aspirational. The more socially mobile, to reuse the pun from my title.
Facebook is who you know. Twitter is who you want to know.
Facebook reinforces social conventions. Twitter does not.
Facebook maintains the status quo. Twitter breaks it.
Facebook is about the past. Twitter is about the future.
Facebook is a constant reminder of our past actions and relationships. Nostalgic of both the recent and distant past.As Don Draper points out in this scene (embedding is disabled, but I’d recommend watching or rewatching it), nostalgia literally means “the pain from an old wound”. This is powerful, but also static.
It is about who we know and what we did.
The good moments but also the bad.
The people we’re glad we’ve stayed in touch with, but also those we’d rather keep in our past.
Yet the social pressure is there to accept these reconnections and intermingle the different worlds and circles of our past (I’m sure Don wouldn’t appreciate that). These relationships are hugely powerful, but they’re not the whole story.
Twitter is about the future. It is social networking in terms of forging new connections, rather than maintaining old ones.
We seek out people who we perceive to have similar interests or ideas to our own.
We recommend people to one another.
We follow macro and micro celebrities, whether to vicariously bask in the reflected glow or to learn from them.
Whatever our motivations, we are able to do this. There is no requirement to justify the people we follow. Likewise, there is no pressure to reciprocate when an individual (Or organisation. Or bot) follows us.
This fluidity of Twitter is a major advantage it has over Facebook. And if Facebook is seeking to keep more of our browsing behaviour within its network, it is something it needs to address.
It’s not just about who we are. It’s also about where we want to be.
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eyermonkey/2842941601/