Look, I know our culture is prone to take-ism. I agree that this is an age in which people say ridiculous things to get clicks. But I solemnly swear to you, dear Prompt readers, that when I say something crazy on here, I mean it. Want proof? I had co-best men at my wedding and both of them talked about my preference for Big Cable in their speeches. I still take night showers. And I still I believe that turning your phone off at night saves the battery (an argument for another day).
So believe me when I say this now, with no hidden agenda or hint of insincerity:
For the purposes of this argument, let’s set aside some of the “extra-curriculars” of social media networks or platforms. While they are valid and worthwhile discussions to have, I’m not here to talk about these platforms as companies. I’m not considering how they treat their employees, their valuations, something crazy their founder said, or whether they influenced an election. I’m here for the bare-bones user experience of seeing photos/text and discussing them with people.
Before I [*extreme headline-y voice*] DESTROY AND EVISCERATE YOUR STUPID OPINION, let me acknowledge that 1) Facebook is not perfect; 2) I still find value in the other social media platforms; and 3) I fully understand the hypocrisy of when I inevitably use Twitter to promote this article.
Now, onto to the contenders…
First of all, I know I said I wasn’t talking about companies, but it needs to be said: Facebook LITERALLY #pwns Instagram. As in they bought the company in 2012. So from the jump, it’s hard to be better than your master.
But that ownership, along with time, has eroded any edge Instagram once had. The way I see it, Instagram once had two main pluses on its side but neither really exist anymore:
There is some legitimacy to the idea that the only thing people care about is photos. There was a valid criticism of Facebook that it featured too many of your aunts posting long rants about the local PETA meeting. But the moron users of Instagram have found a truly obnoxious way around this by posting screenshots of long ramblings they write in their “Notes,” complete with red underlined scribbles to highlight their spelling mistakes. Instagram is now FAR from being a “photos only” safe haven—it’s filled with advertisements, memes that have been screenshotted and shared so much that the white space is completely pixelated, and screenshots of tweets. JUST GO ON TWITTER INSTEAD.
It’s true of any new social media platform that it’s an opportunity to start anew. This was particularly important when Facebook went from requiring a “.edu” email address to letting your mom’s friend Barbara join. But Instagram has been around for 7+ years, and that advantage is now gone. Barbara is on now flexin’ on the ‘gram too, as is that kid you let borrow your pencil back in 10th grade biology class. Advantage over.
Twitter is great. Well, sometimes it’s great. MY Twitter timeline is great. In reality, Twitter is only as good as you make it for yourself. This is true for all social media platforms, but seems to most central to Twitter—if you follow a bunch of dumb accounts, your experience will suck. On the flip-side, if you follow a variety of engaging and succinct accounts (Ed. Note: I recommend @thepromptmag), you’ll love it.
More than the other social platforms, Twitter encourages you to follow people you don’t actually know. So instead of a timeline filled with quips from friends, family, and high school pencil borrowers, you can follow reporters, comedians, athletes, politicians, and whatever the hell Darren Rovell is. That’s a much more satisfying experience.
[For the second voice of this article, I’d like to press the *Extreme Stephen A. Smith* button] HOWEVAH, Twitter is also a cesspool of some of the worst people on the internet. It’s not optimal for photo or video sharing the way Facebook and Instagram are. And they made one of the biggest bonehead changes of all time by expanding the character limit from 140 to 280. At least Twitter used to have brevity on its side, but now with expanded characters and the omnipresent MEGATHREAD: 1/476, it’s just “reading in big chunks.” Twitter was originally described as a “microblog” but people are writing terms papers on this thing now. Just go start a WordPress, people!
Oh yeah, and it might lead to nuclear war.
I love Snapchat. I think it’s great for what it is—a tool for creatively editing and sending a dumb photo or 10-second video to a friend that goes away and doesn’t take up space on either of your phones. I think it does this better than Instagram’s knockoff version (Snapchat’s edits/filters are better and the auto-playing of Instagram’s Stories are obnoxious), but it’s not a truly engaging social media platform.
The O.G. The G.O.A.T. The Champ is here, folks. The funny thing is, when you take a step back, Facebook has all of the good things about Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat in one place. You can post photos/video, links to articles, or your 500-word essay on why Stevie Wonder isn’t blind.
Of course, it also has all of the bad things—ads, photos of salads, and 500-word essays arguing that Stevie Wonder IS blind. But the thing is, it’s all what you make it. Social media feeds inherently reflect the curator.
A few years ago, Facebook invented the wonderful “unfollow’ button; I encourage you to use it with reckless abandon. You can stay “friends” with Barbara, but you never have to see her grandchild again. Get rid of the clutter, keep what you like, and your Facebook feed can be the best of all worlds.
I know this is getting long, so to steal a conclusion line from every high school English paper ever written: In conclusion, all of the other social media platforms have stolen from Facebook or had their unique properties de-valued. Therefore, Facebook is the best social media platform ever. The End.
David Berry is on social media platforms, but in all honesty, you’re probably just better off following him on Twitter.