Online Social Friendships and Twitter

One of the things I have realised over time is that there is no online social network that can faithfully reconstruct our daily face-to-face interactions. You can’t have the same depth of attachment through online connections. If you look at some of the big social networks, you can see that each one can only handle one part of the communication and friendship spectrum.

Starting with the largest of them all, Facebook. It is very user-centric and doesn’t build rich connections. It drives from doing something to have fun – by yourself for the most part – and interacting on the side. You can’t really see or feel another person through its stale white and blue interface. Worse, it is not designed for large-scale textual interaction or for finding new friends. It is almost like a place where you can meet and share things with all the people you already know in some way. What is the use of that?

Twitter. Ah, how I love the medium. But its more of a broadcasting medium. I remember seeing some stats on what percentage of tweets are interacted with in some way. I can’t remember the exact number but it was frightfully low. In twitter, people read and move on. Quite like a newspaper. But I have made a few friends through this medium. They have also been my only online (only) friends. So what makes it different as a medium?

The thing with Twitter is its inherent open nature. Its like going through a crowd of people who all have something to say to everyone (and thus, to you as well). It is probably the first large and successful social site which thrives on public interaction.

You can’t make friends unless you talk to people. Thats true about the old facebook – which was very private and a place to talk about things with people who were ‘already’ your friends. Of course facebook still has those rules place even though the data about you is increasingly public to anyone who cares to write an API.

Twitter gives me the freedom to reply to any person (who hasn’t cheated the purpose of twitter and kept there tweets private) who I find interesting. So make friends!

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