Just Ephemeral Enough

From GOODROOT, via Medium, on the permanent nature of social networks:

Things are different now. In our over-connected existence we have lost the ability to create a blank slate. When, previously, you could separate yourself from past lives and — through reflection and distance — achieve emotional growth and maturity, you are now inhibited by the confines of socially networked relationships. It has been ten years since I graduated the dregs of High School cliques and hierarchies, yet returning from socially ambiguous anonymity to the sun-exposed magnifying glass of social networks has sent me spiralling into strange old thoughts, beliefs, and desires.

I stopped using “Facebook proper” a fairly long time ago1. I rarely check News Feed, and while I occasionally post things to Timeline, I use Facebook as a record more than I do anything else – a permanent log of notable life events that I want to keep track of. I think this is a happy medium between the author’s perspective and my own2.

Instead of posting thoughts, jokes, quips, et cetera. to Facebook, those end up on Twitter. Twitter doesn’t have the Timeline’s historical features that allow you to peer back in time in a single click. Instead, Twitter makes scrolling “back in time” extremely difficult. There’s no pagination, no quick jump, or any other feature that would surface my tweets from years ago3.

This is why I consider Twitter Just Ephemeral Enough to use on a daily basis instead of Facebook. My thoughts from years past on Twitter aren’t regularly surfaced for the world to see, yet they’re still there if I ever care to look at them. The network is focused on the present. If I tweet about something, I can rest assured that it isn’t going to pop back up in four years to haunt me later4.

  1. If I type “fa” into my Chrome Omnibar, the first suggestion is Facebook’s “All Activity” timeline, which makes my only entry point about as far away from news feed as possible. 

  2. The author doesn’t suggest killing off Facebook entirely, but goes on to cite several sources about how continual Facebook use is damaging. 

  3. Technically, any Twitter user can download their Twitter archive, which provides a great historical view of every Tweet by that person. However, this is only accessible to the account holder. 

  4. Or at least, not without some other human going to great lengths to find it. 


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