Spending too much time on Facebook makes people unhappy - that’s according to a study in the Society for Personality and Social Psychologists. Because if, say, your friend has more friends than you, it can feel like a popularity contest that you’re losing. And looking at everyone else’s party pictures and upbeat status updates can make you feel like your own life doesn’t measure up. In fact, one study found that the people with the most friends feel depressed by Facebook most often!
Well, Facebook doesn’t give me the blues – but Twitter does! It’s partly because I actually know most of my Facebook friends in real life. And I realize that everybody tends to post only the most positive news, and leave out the bad parts. But on Twitter, I mostly follow perfect strangers, and have only a handful of followers. And I think that’s the difference.
Sometimes I feel like I’m eavesdropping on private conversations on my Twitter feed. Getting glimpses of the lives of people I’m never going to meet – and it feels weird. (And even if we DID meet face to face, I’m not going to walk up to perfect stranger, and say, “Uh – hi, we’ve never met, but I follow your dog on Twitter.” That would be too geeky for words!)
And when I tweet, I don’t seem to be part of the conversation. Because whether I write my own stuff, add hashtags, comment on someone else’s tweet, or re-tweet someone else’s tweet, it’s like whatever I write vanishes into a black hole. Occasionally I’ll get a comment (mostly from a real-life friend) or a RT (score!). But for the most part, not a peep.
My solution? To think of Twitter as entertainment – like the TV. Or an information portal, like an online news outlet. And not a part of my real life, where I expect communication to be a two-way street. Because it’s not real life, it’s just random, amusing Twitterings that slide on by – whether I read them or not - and vanish. And I’m okay with that.