3 Aug 2009 9:00 am   //   Filed under: Media, Technology

Twitter Shame and Facebook Rage

I want to talk about two emotional reactions I felt recently as a result of social networking sites.

twitterbird1. Twitter Shame

I was at a networking event with some other journalists, and one reporter decided to get provocative. “I just don’t get Tweeter,” she said, deliberately misstating the name. “Who cares what you’re having for lunch?”

Ah, the lunch fallacy. I rushed to Twitter’s defense. “Actually, I find it quite useful,” I said, delivering my well-practiced argument in support of using Twitter for journalism.

And then, suddenly, I ran out of gas. A wave of intense embarrassment washed over me. Am I really this much of a tool? I imagined someone tape-recording the conversation, then playing it back to me later, snickering at my emotional defense of a tech start-up in which I have no stake whatsoever. I felt Twitter Shame.

facebookicons2. Facebook Rage

Facebook’s interface is like the old board game Othello: A minute to learn, a lifetime to master.

Recently, I made a change to an item in my profile that I didn’t want broadcast to everybody I know. It wasn’t exactly a secret, but drawing attention might have seemed tacky and insensitive. I checked my Facebook settings, and everything looked safe. After I made the change, I checked my Wall, my Profile and my News Feed. The change hadn’t been called out anywhere. Mission accomplished.

Or so I thought. Weeks later, I shared this piece of information with a family member, and she mentioned to me that she’d already seen it on Facebook. I was furious! Facebook had done exactly the thing I thought I’d told it not to do. This was my moment of Facebook Rage.

(On further investigation, I believe Facebook published my change under Highlights, which has different settings than Wall and News Feed. Am I the only one who didn’t know this?)

Lessons

I was not put on this earth to be a social media evangelist. My job is to communicate information, and I’m proud that I can do my job using whatever tools are handy. Pride in one’s work is a good feeling. Shame and rage are not.

When I discuss Twitter, Facebook, etc. with a sophisticated audience, such as my colleagues at work or readers of this blog, I always add a few caveats. These sites could shut down at any time without warning. We don’t pay them and they don’t pay us. If the wheels come off, we need to be ready to hop on the next bus, which will no doubt have its own problems.

What comes after Twitter Shame and Facebook Rage? Bing Fever?