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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Twitter, now more relevant, has supplanted Facebook

Published: November 16, 2012
Section: Opinions

In a world of social media and instant information, college students have long gone to Facebook to connect with family, with friends at other schools, to procrastinate (homework on one tab, facebook on the other) and to upload photos of their awesome weekends.

Status updates, however, are one thing you will see less and less frequently these days. Why? Well, that is quite simply, I feel, because of the rise in popularity of Twitter. Twitter, which creeping up to 140 million plus active users, virtually captures the essence of one’s Facebook status, at a much more frequent rate. Twitter allows for more expression by the individual user because it is fundamentally about the basics—what someone is thinking in the moment. You can update your Twitter throughout the day, describe your thoughts, location and other such insights. Twitter will continue to increase in popularity and more and more college students will spend the majority of their social networking time on this site.

While one may be criticized for updating their status too much on Facebook, this is precisely the point of Twitter. You can update as much as you want and those who choose to follow you can hear what you have to say and vice versa. Unfollowing someone on Twitter is much less obvious and awkward then de-friending someone on Facebook. It is also a lot easier to follow the everyday lives of celebrities, activists and organizations through continuous live updates that Twitter provides to users. In addition, a news feed is provided and major news companies such as CNN have twitter accounts that are open to the public.

If you want to share private thoughts you can make your tweets private with the click of a button and only accept certain followers. Thus, it is very customizable to one’s interests and the amount of information they want to share and receive. It even caters to users by providing a list of similar users you might know and a list of trending words in a particular day. If a big news event occurs, a word relating to it will be hashtagged (the infamous Twitter symbol #) and you can click on the word to see all other tweets dealing with the issue. You can also use the search engine and almost every imaginable topic will have relevant tweets with a plethora of opinions and comments.

Twitter is much more representative of a person than Facebook. You get a person’s thoughts and feelings versus a picture of them posing in carefully-oriented profiles. People can rally around things that are important to them through the opinions they post on Twitter. Just look at the statistics from the last election as described by Fox News, noting that 327,000 tweets were sent per minute. If you were on Twitter during the presidential debates, this statistic probably does not surprise you. My news feed was filled with political commentary and jokes about the candidates during each debate. People seem less guarded and more blunt in their tweets as compared to their posts on Facebook. Perhaps, it gives off a much more personal feel to users since it focuses more on opinion than on pictures and style, as does Facebook. You can still post pictures on Twitter but this is certainly not the focus of the site.

You have 140 characters or less to say what you want to say, which eliminates paragraphs of information and depicts what is happening then and there. This is, after all, exactly what people are looking for these days. When news is so readily accessible and instantaneous, people prefer short and to-the-point statements.

At any point in time you can ask your followers about a particular issue, contact a person or organization directly and you can get a response. People can respond to you via direct messaging or on their Twitter feed. A discussion can go back and forth, main ideas can be retweeted and top thoughts and ideas favorited. Whether you have five followers or 100, it is easy to interact with others on Twitter and put your opinion out there.

While Facebook still has an incredible amount of followers across many demographics and took over the popularity of Myspace, I find it to be a lot more superficial than Twitter. Facebook is a great way for groups to organize social events, reconnect with people and store photo albums. For a group of young people, however, who like straightforward, instant thoughts and ever expanding information, Twitter is the way to go.