Monday, November 7, 2011

No FB status likes? Try Twitter, it’s for the Insecure!

As a Northwestern student immersed in social media classes, and a college student who obsessively checks her Facebook and multiple Twitter accounts (yes, I have three Twitter accounts), I'm exposed to a wide range of content on an hourly basis. Recently, a friend of mine posted a status about changing his Facebook name to “Nobody” so that he could “like stupid statuses", resulting in “Nobody Likes this”. This speaks volumes about the social interactions that occur on Facebook. What do we expect from others when we post status updates? According to a recent YouTube video featured on Mashable, we expect lots of likes! In this video, a man mocks what I will call Facebook Insecurity: “Like my status if you love food! Like my status if you a pimp! Like my status if you love slinkies!” His point: Stop making status updates that start with “Like my status if…” because they are creating too much clutter.
            Whether or not we agree with his point about those types of statuses is a wholly different discussion. Instead, I want to address the issue of insecurity: if you post a status and nobody likes it, how do you feel? In my Consumer Behavior class at Northwestern University, we discussed the probability of a charismatic personality being successfully translated on to the Internet. Is there a strong connection between the two? The answer is two fold. First, a charismatic person obviously cannot infect others with her personality from behind a computer screen, even if she were to show a video of herself. True human interactions are needed to create influential connections. But on the other hand, the Internet provides a great medium for spreading ideas and establishing influencers (you might be one! Check out your Klout score! It measures your online influence. The last time I checked, mine was 40.)
            So let’s bring it back to social media. When you send out a status message and receive no likes, it is akin to saying something in a conversation and having nobody respond. Nobody wants to feel ignored! In general, Facebook provides much room for criticism, since you are essentially exposing your personality to your “friends”, mostly through pictures, wall posts and status updates. Of course, a recent trend has been for people to limit their profiles, which can be seen as a defensive measure, ensuring privacy and a defense against unwanted “creepers”. In no way am I implying that people who limit their profiles are insecure; I see it as a matter of choosing to increase your privacy.
            A strong alternative to Facebook in terms of privacy is Twitter. It is a haven for the insecure! If you Tweet something, you don’t have to worry about Likes and comments. As Jesse Eisenberg’s character put it in Zombieland: “The best thing about Z-land? No Facebook status updates. You know, Rob Curtis is gearing up for Friday. Who cares?” Twitter also limits the amount of information you can give; pictures and walls are not dominant here! In the long run, I see an ecosystem of social media platforms, with everyone holding steady at having three to four accounts that they actively use. For instance, I have a Facebook, a personal Twitter, and a LinkedIn account. Perhaps people with more resilient personalities will lean towards Facebook, while people who care more about their privacy will lean towards Twitter. This is not to say there aren’t other factors at play, but Insecurity and Privacy are certainly two important factors affecting the dynamics of social media interaction today. 
Stephanie Fang is a Senior at Northwestern University. In addition to pursuing an Integrated Marketing Communications certificate, she is an Economics major and a Business Institutions minor. Her favorite aspect of Social Media is the viral video, because they allow her to see cool ads that she wouldn't see on television, as well as fueling her addiction for YouTube viewing parties. Follow her on Twitter at @StephFang_me.


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