Oct 12

Twitter, the city

Frankly I wasn’t so into this week’s Questioningly challenge at first, “Define Twitter in a Tweet.” It’s something I’ve thought about before. In fact just that morning – the morning after the Vice-Presidential debate – I had compared Twitter to a live, crowd-sourced Pop-Up Video. Another time I compared Facebook to yearbook (not a stretch) and Twitter to the school newspaper, literary journal, and passing notes in class all in one.

But once I started trying to define Twitter, and reading some really clever, funny, and apt definitions (“A riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in typos wrapped in bacon,” from Jael McHenry, and “Finally, the voices inside my head have a home,” by Kelly Thul), I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

What I came up with was, “Facebook is the suburbs; Twitter is the city. I prefer the city.” Not exactly genius, but it tells me why going onto Facebook makes me feel suffocated and depressed, while Twitter for me is fun and enlightening.

On Facebook, it’s just this circle of friends and acquaintances. You kind of know everyone. On Twitter, you know some people, but it’s also all these strangers, and the opportunity to interact with strangers in cool (and not-so-cool) ways. In New York (and to less of extent, here in San Francisco), I often had these moments with strangers. Like you’d bond just for a little while, or yell profanities at each other, and then you’d never see that person again.

On Facebook, you risk running into old classmates and other undesirables. On Twitter, you can run into and engage with real-live celebrities. Margaret freaking Atwood retweeted one of my tweets and replied back to another! My brother had Giada De Laurentiis reply to one of his, and now also Andrew Zimmern is following him! It’s like New York where you can find yourself eating lunch next to Kate Hudson, or watching a play with Sarah Jessica Parker, or riding the damned subway with Jake Gyllenhaal.

On Twitter, you’re surrounded by news, culture, gossip, and some plain noise. New York is the epicenter of all those things. It’s noisy, smart, cynical, funny, and sometimes (well, often) pretty obnoxious. Facebook, unless you like the right pages, is a wasteland of humblebragging and baby pictures, not that I don’t love baby pictures (I do, a little too much in fact), but it’s all so in your face. It’s all there is.

Twitter isn’t just the city; it’s New York. At least to me.