Last year I created a Facebook account and a Twitter account. I wasn’t invited to join either. I just thought it would be fun to see what these tools are all about. So I signed up.
What I found after several months is that I value messages from Facebook and Twitter more or less based on how well they answer the question “What are you thinking?” versus the question “What are you doing?”. In fact, as I de-clutter my Facebook and Twitter accounts I find myself aiming to remove “doing” messages and hoping for more “thinking” messages.
I think the reason is that I really long for a closer connection with family, friends, and generally interesting people. Understanding what someone is doing is like watching from a distance. If it is someone you are already close to then I suppose it helps to maintain a connection, but it can’t deepen that connection. Understanding what someone is thinking, however, is a way to not only deepen my connection with them but can also produce lots of additional benefits such as: learning, initiating a conversation/debate, broadening my perspective, generating new ideas, etc.
So with that in mind I am changing the way I use Facebook and Twitter. I try to use Facebook applications that give my friends insight into what I am thinking (Books for example). And rather than Twittering about what I am doing or where I am going, I try to focus on events that are important to me, or interesting thoughts that I want to share.
Selfishly I am hoping that the family, friends, and others that I friend/follow in Facebook and Twitter will more frequently answer the question “What are you thinking?” so that I have the opportunity to know them better and to benefit from their experiences and insights.