Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why Twitter is a Better Place Than Facebook

In this post, I will compare what are arguably the two most popular social networking websites on the Internet: Twitter and Facebook. In doing so, I aim to persuade you that the Twitter environment is a far more peaceful place than the Facebook environment. This post is not about Facebook's layout inefficiencies, or how it seems to barrage us with constant changes while Twitter remains consistent. This post is about the people who use each social network. In saying that, let me clarify that I will not be naming or shaming anyone in this post (although some deserve to be).

First of all, allow me to share my thoughts on the social functions of each website. I feel that Facebook is the social network you should stick to if you are solely concerned with fostering and perpetuating social relationships with people you already know. That is, you should 'friend' schoolmates, work colleagues, actual friends and acquaintances. Facebook is not the place to add random people just because they arouse your libido. It comes off as creepy and it can make things awkward. Facebook's emphasis on knowing people you connect with is entrenched in their terminology. For example, people you are connected with are known as 'friends', implying you should be on friendly terms with these people; that you would recognise them if you saw them in the street. You can 'poke' people on Facebook, as a way of letting them know you're there (or as a softcore method of flirtation; take your pick). Now, you wouldn't poke a random stranger in real life, would you? Maybe some of you would, but that's none of my business. The point is, Facebook is concerned with strengthening community ties. I see it as a small world inside a much larger world - a microcosm, if you will. Facebook has 'walls' and 'photo albums' - terms which evoke homely connotations. Clearly, this is a social network for people who know each other.

Twitter is a completely different beast. Unlike Facebook, you can 'follow' someone without even gaining their permission. Of course, if you choose to, you can tweak your privacy settings so that people must be approved before they can follow you. The majority of profiles, though, can be accessed and followed with the click of a button. Let me get this straight: you should NOT be on Twitter if you aren't willing to meet new people. If you want to stay inside your own shell, stick to Facebook. Twitter is all about global interaction. When I think of Twitter, McLuhan's theory of the Global Village springs to mind. This medium allows the rapid movement of information from all corners of the globe. The great thing about Twitter is that there really is a profile for everyone. If you wish, you don't even have to follow people, per se. You can follow companies, or numerous bizarre profiles such as 'Dogs Doing Things'. Most people are at first attracted to Twitter because of all the celebrities. I mean, it's like Hollywood, but in Internet form. But after making an account, you'll soon discover that only a small minority of celebrities will actually respond to your tweets. That's understandable, considering the copious amount of tweets they must receive in a day, let alone an hour. Once you come to terms with this shattered dream, you begin to realise that "Hey, there are actually some genuine people on this thing." This is the best part of Twitter. Making connections with everyday people that you don't even know. It's boring if you just follow your friends or celebrities. You already know the former, and you probably won't get any response from the latter. By following regular, everyday people, you start to create your own 'Twitter family'. And no, I don't think I'm hyperbolising. Some of the connections you make will really enrich your life, and it will sometimes feel like you've known your Twitter followers all your life.

Now, why is Twitter superior to Facebook? Of course, I will be drawing on personal experience throughout this paragraph, and I realise that not everyone's experiences will be the same as mine. Seeing as I am 18 years of age, the majority of my Facebook friends are people who I went to school with. I graduated with most of them, but there are also some who graduated before me, and some who are yet to graduate. Judging by this age demographic, I don't expect my homepage to be flooded with serious material that is intellectually-stimulating, nor do I expect a high level of maturity. Am I being too harsh on you, fellow Facebookers? Nah, I don't think I am, because those low expectations of mine have been met one too many times! Seriously, why do so many of you have to be immature, insolent assholes? I am aware that I post frequently, and I am aware that most of you couldn't give a shit about the majority of links I post. That's fair enough. I can't expect all of you to share my tastes in music, reading material, and the like. I am also aware that my status updates probably bore the crap out of you. Sure, I come up with the occasional status update which garners five or more 'likes', but the majority are ignored. I actually don't mind too much that my status updates are ignored, but it *does* annoy me when I see someone post a cheesy quote about love or faith that they ATTEMPT TO PASS OFF AS THEIR OWN, and they get over ten 'likes' for it. Or, even worse, status updates that hark back to the days of Bebo, such as "'Like' and I'll rate you out of 10" or "Who's up?" (asked late at night to see who's awake). Oh, and then there are those people who post nothing but disgusting rap lyrics for every status update. Of course, those status updates attract AT LEAST five 'likes'. Let's not forget those people who toss around words such as 'faggot' as though no one reading their post will be offended. Last night in fact, I read one of the most disgusting status updates I've ever seen, laden with blatant homophobia. I won't repeat it here, but if you follow me on Twitter, you'll know what it was. Another thing that annoys me about Facebook are those people who 'like' any comment that contradicts me. I call them 'lurkers'. For example, I'll post a joke as a status update, and some idiot will respond that the joke is crap (HEY BUDDY, DON'T LIKE MY JOKES? CLICK 'UNFRIEND'), and THEN, a 'lurker' will come along and 'like' the comment that says my joke is crap, but they won't offer any of their own insights. Oh, and how can I forget, THE SPELLING, GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION!? Look, you don't have to have the linguistic poise of Shakespeare, but please, if you can't string a sentence together or can't tell the different between 'their', 'there' and 'they're', OR 'your' and 'you're' OR 'it's' and 'its', then READ A FUCKING BOOK and then come back to grace me with your online presence. Anyway, I'm going to end this paragraph because I'm getting way too snarky and I'm going to make you all hate me (if you don't already). But yeah, the essence is: BE POLITE TO EACH OTHER AND CARRY YOURSELF WITH DECENCY AND DIGNITY. And if you don't like what I post, you can always click 'unfriend'. I'm not stopping you! Now you're all thinking "Dude, why don't YOU unfriend US if you don't like what WE post?" Well, starting tonight, if you post something disgusting, and I feel that having you cut from my life will not be of detriment to me, I will unfriend you.

*Deep breath* Now! Twitter is a much friendlier place than Facebook, on so many levels. If you tweet that you're having a bad day, people will actually attempt to comfort you. They will ask if you need to talk. They will give you virtual hugs. To be fair, I occasionally see that on Facebook as well, although it often takes the cheapened form of "inbox me, babe." The other day, I was having difficulty with a cryptic crossword, so I expressed over Twitter that I needed some help. That tweet was retweeted a few times, and it didn't take long for the help to come flooding in. If I had expressed over Facebook that I needed help with a cryptic crossword, the status update would most likely go ignored, or I may have been met with something like "lol ur gay who does crosswords". I attribute my rediscovered desire for leisure reading to Twitter. People in the Twittersphere post the most insightful and fascinating reading material! Hey Facebookers, ever wonder where I find all the links that I post on Facebook? Yep, you guessed it - from Twitter. A lot of intellectual conversation takes place on Twitter. And it's not only 'intellectual' because of the topics discussed, but also because the people know how to deal with each other. There is very little rudeness on the site, but when there is, you can just block the people giving you strife.

Time to wrap this up. This post wasn't written to persuade Facebookers to migrate to Twitter. As most Tweeps (Twitter peeps) have expressed "We don't want you here." But seriously, if you genuinely feel that you might enjoy Twitter, you can give it a go. Maybe it will change you for the better. Just don't carry over those ugly Facebook habits.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Earlier this week, I finished reading a self-help book called How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I read it after hearing the title mentioned in the film Diner (which is recommended), and then looked it up on Wikipedia. I had never read a self-help book before, but I thought that I could do with some tips on how to get people to like me. I know that I'm not widely hated, but I am aware that many people on Facebook (maybe even YOU) find me annoying, and that I have difficulty making friends. What's remarkable is that the principles espoused in the book are still relevant in contemporary times, despite the fact that the book was first published in 1936. Carnegie uses examples to explain each principle, and the tone of the book shifts between instructional and humorous. This blog entry will merely summarise each of the chapters from the book, and thus provide a checklist of sorts that will inform you how to "win friends and influence people." Apply these principles and people WILL like you more than they already do. In short, Carnegie's book teaches people how not to be an asshole. Oh, and it has sold 15 million copies worldwide, in case you were wondering.  

Twelve Things This Book Will Do For You
  1. Get you out of a mental rut, give you new thoughts, new visions, new ambitions.
  2. Enable you to make friends quickly and easily.
  3. Increase your popularity.
  4. Help you to win people to your way of thinking.
  5. Increase your influence, your prestige, your ability to get things done.
  6. Enable you to win new clients, new customers.
  7. Increase your earning power.
  8. Make you a better salesman, a better executive.
  9. Help you to handle complaints, avoid arguments, keep your human contacts smooth and pleasant.
  10. Make you a better speaker, a more entertaining conversationalist.
  11. Make the principles of psychology easy for you to apply in your daily contacts.
  12. Help you to arouse enthusiasm among your associates.

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

  1. Don't criticize, condemn, or complain.
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.
  3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Six Ways to Make People Like You

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person's interest.
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

  1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  2. Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never say "You're Wrong."
  3. If you're wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  4. Begin in a friendly way.
  5. Start with questions to which the other person will answer yes.
  6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
  7. Let the other person feel the idea is his or hers.
  8. Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.
  9. Be sympathetic with the other person's ideas and desires.
  10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
  11. Dramatise your ideas.
  12. Throw down a challenge.

Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

  1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
  2. Call attention to people's mistakes indirectly.
  3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
  4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  5. Let the other person save face.
  6. Praise every improvement.
  7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
  8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
  9. Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest.

Seven Rules For Making Your Home Life Happier

  1. Don't nag.
  2. Don't try to make your partner over.
  3. Don't criticize.
  4. Give honest appreciation.
  5. Pay little attentions.
  6. Be courteous.
  7. Read a good book on the sexual side of marriage.




Thursday, September 15, 2011

Things That Make Life Worth Living

Woody Allen's Manhattan is a gorgeous film. Shot in black and white, it captures the beauty of New York City in a way that colour could not. Allen plays Isaac Davis, a twice-divorced 42-year-old comedy writer who temporarily dates a 17 year-old girl called Tracy, before deciding that he would be better suited to someone closer to his age. Towards the end of the film, when Isaac's relationship with the older woman has failed, he realises that he enjoyed Tracy's company all along. This realisation comes to Isaac in the form of an epiphany, almost. He is lying on his couch, voicing the things that make his life worth living into a tape recorder. The final thing he says is "Tracy's face", before he races out of his apartment building and reaches Tracy moments before she leaves for London. Allen's "What makes life worth living?" scene has stuck with me ever since I saw Manhattan, a bit over a year ago.

I thought I'd have a go at my own monologue (in the style of Allen's), about the things that make my life worth living. Here goes:

Alright. Why is life worth living? That's a very good question. Uh...well...there are certain things I guess that make it worthwhile. what? Okay. Um...for me? I would say Neil Finn, to name one thing. And Oscar Wilde, and that sense of urban alienation captured in Edward Hopper paintings. Nighthawks is a personal favourite. The thrill of almost being caught masturbating. Extra cheese on pizza, naturally. Shaun Micallef. Stephen Fry. Uh...the plastic bag scene in American Beauty. That whole film, actually. Making eye contact with attractive strangers on a train, especially when they reciprocate for a few seconds. Michael Hutchence-era INXS, for sure. The Simpsons before it jumped the shark. Uh...the karaoke scene in Lost in Translation, and the fact that no-one knows what Bob whispered in Charlotte's ear at the end of that film. The Internet - that's a major one. Oh, and I mustn't forget animals. Especially pets. And High Fidelity by Nick Hornby - my favourite novel. And Woody Allen, especially his monologues and characterisation of self-referential neurotic protagonists.