I’ve been on Facebook more over the last two weeks than I’ve been on Twitter. They are, of course very different applications in many ways, but they have similar features, most notably, the status update, which is almost all Twitter really is while Facebook sports many other features. I have almost completely different friends on Facebook than I do on Twitter. I’ve had a Facebook account since 2004 and back then, I had a handful of friends from the tech and new media fields. We were all just taking FB for a test drive, kicking the tires, seeing what’s up. I started a Twitter account in 2007 and really started using it heavily during a conference in early 2007 as a backchannel. Since the conference was a techie oriented one, most of my friends were also techies in the education field. In fact, I can clearly delineate my friends on Twitter among higher education folks, K-12 folks, and then a few random people thrown in for good measure–moms, news and job sources, pure technology folks. I use Twitter to find information from people who have their finger on the pulse of different areas. People point to articles, new applications, or make quick suggestions. And often, I do the same.
Facebook, on the other hand, contains almost exclusively what I’d call “past friends.” These are people I befriended in high school, college, and grad school or worked with at one time or another. For good measure, I’m friends with a few old blogger friends, my mom and dad, my kids, a couple of cousins, and friends of my parents. It’s a broader net, for sure, as there aren’t the same interests tying us together. And yes, I spend much of my time there managing my virtual enterprises, but I also take note of what my old friends have to say, and I’m starting to feel somewhat reconnected to some of the ones that post most often. For the most part, my friends in Facebook are not particularly technologically savvy as far as I can tell, or, at the very least, don’t care that much about technical stuff. It’s just the opposite for my Twitter friends. Even the educators are very tech savvy and very interested in technology, especially the ways it’s changing education.
Both tools make it fairly easy to keep up with lots of people at once. At a glance, I can see what conferences people are attending, what they’re reading, what they’re spending time on (grading and cleaning are popular). But each has its own vibe. Facebook is slower paced and more personal, while Twitter is fast and more about people’s professional lives. In Facebook, I tend to find out about people’s marriages, deaths, children’s illnesses while in Twitter, I find out when books are published, meetings go bad, or other professional events. I wouldn’t want to completely combine them and I think many of my FB friends wouldn’t want to migrate to Twitter and vice versa. So, I live in two separate worlds, hopping back and forth depending on what mood I’m in. I think the variety is good for me.