The Least Sincere Form of Flattery

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Twitter unveiled a new feature on its website and official apps today that’s called “muting” people. This means you can be more selective of whose tweets appear in your default timeline and without ever having to block or unfollow.

The gap between Twitter and Facebook gets another step smaller.

We already do this on Facebook. For many people the site has become, or has always been depending on the time they joined and/or their aptitude for good future judgment, a place to list names of those you know from the off chance that you might want to get in touch with them at any point in the future. You don’t need their phone number or email address anymore, which makes it a great way to abstractly herd the people you only sort of like but don’t want to risk getting contacted by regularly in what’s generally more of a personal space.

We don’t need to use Facebook to actually share all the things we’ve read or update our daily life events or share memes and cheesy photos. For those who do, we can still make some sort of functional communication from the site by removing the annoying kinds of posts, or the serial annoyers altogether, from our timeline. I’ve done that quite a bit.

That’s essentially what Twitters mute function does, but even further. Muting somebody can not only remove their tweets from your regular timeline, but make any interaction they attempt with you initially invisible, until decided otherwise. I could “follow” thousands of people and mute them just to inflate my ego and the chance that they’ll do the same to me. (And then, like a true Twitter queen, I would get offended that my audience is so insincere and doesn’t actually read my scatological destruction of the heteronormative patriarchy.)

The separation I try to keep between Twitter and Facebook is different content for different audiences. On Facebook: updates few and far between, because most of the people I’ve known throughout my life have completely different interests and lifestyles than me, and to them I appear boring and immature. On Twitter: spurts of bombardments of silliness or rants that are witty and insightful, because as mundane as my life may be, I can be a pretty entertaining person to a properly entertainable audience.

Facebook: a Rolodex.

Twitter: an open mic.

The better part of an open mic is that it’s free for people to use and paying attention is purely voluntary. There’s nothing to be gained or saved by standing in front of someone freely performing and only pretending to listen. It’s loitering, even in a virtual landscape of near-infinite space.

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