Twitter (and other SNs) then and now



In 2008, we asked Rant readers where they stood on Twitter and Facebook, and here are some of the responses we got:

 I just really don’t understand Twitter. I mean, I get how it works. It’s the *why* that gives me problems.

Twitter? Let’s just say that my take on it is that it’s for the birds.

 I recently acquired a Facebook page, but I’m darned if I know what to do with it.

 it’s just one more freaking thing to keep up with–which is why I won’t be on a garden site or twitter or digg or whatever… I DO have a life.

And so on. I have not given the names of these commenters, but I know that a couple of them are now seen regularly on one social network or another. As are most of us. What a difference a couple of years makes! Even Michele has been won over by Twitter (but not by Facebook), while Amy, Susan, and I have been habitués of both networks for a while now. (The collective Rant account tweets posts, and occasionally answers tweets aimed at it, if one of us sees them.)

I love Facebook for a number of reasons but am not a regular tweeter—just when I feel like it. I also have some problems with tweets aimed at either my Buffalo followers and my garden followers. They usually don’t make sense to one of the groups. It happens on FB too. 

But this is what I’d like to know.

1. Are there any diehard social network abominators still left out there?

2. Who is on twitter and/or facebook several times day and loves it? Or is it just one or the other?

3. Who keeps up their twitter and/or facebook accounts out of obligation—i.e., as part of career-related endeavors?

4. Who is trying to keep up with it all, but still finds the whole thing kind of annoying?

Is a mixture of some of the above? Oh, and what was it that won you over—or was it more like giving in?

And here’s a poll.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I have a twitter account and occasionally I’ll get a notice that someone is following me, but I stopped going there after about a month because I still don’t understand it. I do use my FB – to direct people to a new post on my blog mostly, but sometimes with a purely personal comment. I do get referrals from FB so I can see the benefit, even if it is only real friends who are reminded they should visit me.

  2. I guess I’m still s “diehard social network abominator”. Perhaps I’m just antisocial. I don’t care about the everyday goings on of everyone I know and certainly don’t want to be interrupted by my phone all the time. I’m happy with e-mail so I can choose when to receive messages.

  3. I’m a Facebook person. I’ve been using it since it came out in something like 2003 or 2004.

    Twitter is another story. It just doesn’t work unless you have a phone that allows you to tweet. Which I don’t. My life is also very boring and, well, it seems so narcissistic.

    On the other hand, I’m the type of person who uses social networks primarily to keep in touch or to learn. I’m not on social sites to talk about myself (but if others didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have anything to read).

  4. Glad you asked! I enjoy FB and am in the demographic that’s signing up in droves and finding their childhood friends and college boyfriends. Also keeping up with family members who wouldn’t call or email if their lives depended on it.

    Twitter I really don’t like and only use b/c I’m supposed to. The diff? The 140 characters, the difficulty in following a conversation (impossibility, actually), all those damn @so-and-so responses. Wish I could just turn off the RTs and the @ responses without having to do them individually – a global opt-out, please.
    And most of all, I’m turned off by the Twitter-abusers – my term for people who post several times a day. People, NOBODY can say something worth reading several times a day, every day. If you’re tweeting your every mood and foodstuff, then I’m one of many who are unfollowing, delisting, or just glazing over when we see your avatar. I only actually READ people who post when they have something that’s worth sharing.
    I think that garden writers especially should follow the lead of journalists and post less frequently but more strategically. (I followed several members of the Soc of Enviro Journalists for a while just to see how it’s done.)

  5. no twitter, facebook or any other soc. network, Don’t even have a cell phone and I am very happy that way. I’m not a recluse I just think that when I want to socialize I’ll actually do it face to face. It’s much more satisfying that way!!

  6. I am with Jan. Don’t text, either. Suppose I will do that with the next cell phone contract. Will probably do faceback when I have grandkids living far away. And that time is far away. My children tell me I haven’t come into the 20th century, much less the 21st. If this was the begining of 1900’s, I would be one of those persons yelling at the model A’s going down the road “Get a horse!”.

    I am technicallly lazy. I hate gadgets. I hate the way they change for no good reason and I have to figure out once again all the new, and to me, unnecessary applications.

  7. I wish that neither existed. It is just too much. I love all of the info on the internet, blogs and such. Email is great for communication. Why all the rest? I would rather be outside.

  8. I have an odd job where I sit and monitor a computer all day long. I can’t leave my desk. I can do anything I want online as long as I can drop everything and work when work shows up. If my cell phone rings when a job comes in I can’t answer it, it took years to train everyone that they have to leave a message. I enjoy reading blogs and emails but that’s my limit. I’m just not available for any sort of back and forth messaging and after ‘staring at a box’ all day long when I go home I unplug and work in the yard (sometimes by flashlight). The last thing I want is to be connected to anything electronic. I may be a dinosaur but my yard looks great!

  9. I’m new to twitter in the last eight weeks and have already connected with some great people I otherwise wouldn’t know about – great to have a dialogue – and its a fantastic information source. Too bad so many people are just on twitter to push out their stuff.

  10. I love Twitter and have started using Facebook recently. I enjoy them both. The amount of information I find each day is amazing. But I don’t follow family and friends. I use it primarily to keep up with people in horticulture or design fields who use it professionally most of the time. This eliminates a lot of “what I ate for lunch” or “I’m bored” posts. I’m a bit horticulturally obsessed and it’s been a great way to connect with like-minded people that I haven’t been finding locally.
    I usually only check in during the mornings and evenings and don’t do it via phone. I’ve yet to feel the need to be that connected.

  11. I like FB…I was won over by realizing I could keep up with my children who live in other parts of the state and other friends and family members. I love the information about books and news that I pick up…I check in many times a day. Twitter is another story. Much too difficult to have a conversation or follow anything. I just find it…messy. And rarely (every couple months?) even look at it.

  12. I don’t have a Twitter account. I do have a Facebook account, but I opened it for business networking purposes. So far, it has not produced any business opportunities – just a bunch of “friend” requests.
    I think it is so weird that people you already know (i.e. friends) are sending friend requests. Does this mean that you are not really friends until you are Facebook friends, too?
    I also can’t get my head around spending time socializing on a virtual level instead of a personal level. Why tweet about what you’re doing when you can simply call a friend and talk about it? And those tweets are often so banal and unnecessary that you would usually never bother friends with the information in them. Such a huge time-suck with nothing to show for it.
    I am shaking my head from side to side as I write this.

  13. If you are part of the online gardening world, you need to be savvy about social trends. The trend is that most of the people looking at your blogs, etc., are young and are going to expect people to have facebook page or a Twitter account. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see fewer gardening blogs and more Twitter and Facebook pages popping up about gardening in the near future. People want to share their gardening perspectives but may not want the commitment of a full time blog, or may not feel confident enough in their knowledge or experience base to support one. And posting missives or photos to a Twitter account or on your Facebook wall takes considerably less time than composing posts or maintaining your blog. In fact, there are times I’ve considered deep-sixing my blog and only having a Twitter feed.

  14. I abhor Facebook, but due to job hunting, was required to get an account. I do have a Live Journal account and post to that. Twitter? Gak! I have better things to do then let everyone in the world know my every move. Most of my thoughts require more than 140 characters. And if I have a thought/rant worth posting, I’ll post it to LiveJournal for my friends to see with friend-locked posts.

  15. I’ve really felt over the past year that quickly dipping in and out of multiple conversations was splintering what little concentration I have left, so don’t do much with Facebook anymore, but when I check in I usually find a raucous party going on among my friends. If FB seems boring, it might have something to do with your roster of “friends.” I have noticed that I have an irresistible compulsion to status update with incendiary political stuff for my light-hearted, vivacious friends and family, along the lines of my niece’s compulsion to let us all know how much she drank Saturday night, so I just deny myself the indulgence. Twitter, no.

  16. Facebook … well, I update as I can (which is about every 3 months apparently) but I’m starting to realize I’m far too introverted to tell everyone what I’m thinking daily. Well, except for those reading the GR comments. I’m not on Twitter, in part because I don’t need another web addiction, uh, distraction, but also because I think I’m too long-winded to make use of it. And then there’s that eternal grade-school fear of “what if I speak but nobody cares what I have to say?”

    For a while I was on Flickr for hours a day (sooo much more than just pretty pictures if you get involved), but I’ve had to cut back on that as other demands took over. As far as most social networking sites go, I think I’m that person in question #4 – tries to keep up with it all, but really just want to take a hike, take some photos & garden, garden, garden. And cook. Telling everybody about it just exhausts me.

  17. Can the GardenRant ladies tell us who they follow on Twitter?

    I might use it if I actually knew who did good, informative tweets. I want to see what is blooming in the garden, what’s new at the garden center, what cool book you just picked up. As everyone else has said, I don’t want to know what someone had for lunch (unless it came directly out of the veggie patch).

  18. C_G, If you go to our Twitter feed–there is a link on the sidebar–I believe everyone we follow is listed right there. It is a public part of Twitter.

  19. I have never Twittered, and really don’t want to Twitter. I have a FB account, but it is extremely rare that I go on it. It is very annoying reading about people being bored, or thinking they are funny. I don’t have that kind of time I guess, and I like my actual life outside of the computer! Hiking, gardening, biking, kayaking, running,kids.

  20. I don’t like polls because the questions are too confining. None of the options here really fit. I post to both, but “regularly” doesn’t mean everyday. I don’t do it out of obligation, but because I like to connect with people more informally than just through a blog post.
    I admit, I was one of the Twitter naysayers a couple years ago, but I get it now. I don’t post what I had for breakfast, or what color load of laundry I’m doing. I do post what’s started blooming in garden, the latest squirrel atrocity, and links to my blog posts.

  21. No twitter.
    Limited Facebook.
    Originally signed up for facebook as an explored avenue for business purposes, somewhat similar in thought as my blog.
    For the most part it doesn’t bring in any business and I now use it for entertainment purposes .
    I also get a lot more spam since having the account.
    I could easily live without it.

  22. On Twitter. When I first went on Twitter (I’m in my 3rd year, I thought it was da bomb. I met some great friends that I would not have otherwise met. I met editors and publishers, opening doors that would have been more difficult to open in traditional ways. In those early social media years, a lot of my blog traffic came from Twitter. Then, it lost it’s luster…in part from changes Twitter made, and frankly, after being hacked multiple times. I visit a couple times a day now, and find I rarely have a long convo like the old days. So much of that has moved to facebook. On the upside, I do enjoy the chats such as #GardenChat and #ToolChat.

    On facebook. I have no idea what took me so long. I think is far superior than Twitter and with it, I see a bright future in communicating one’s business. It is more than a micro-blogging platform – it is more like a mini-website or dare I say, even a replacement for a website. As I write this, I think the only drawback is, near as I can tell, facebook doesn’t incorporate SEOs….in other words, it doesn’t add much value to deepening one’s digital footprint. If you know otherwise, please share with me.

    With facebook, you can set up landing pages, info pages, link your blog via Network Blogs, discussion pages, add photos and albums, and share thoughts with like minded people. It’s easy to navigate and use, the conversation stays with the post, and you can come along and “like” something a friend said or posted, a nice friendly way to tell a friend you stopped by..and for that moment, you were on their mind. And I don’t even have to worry if someone will remember my birthday ;~\

    I’ve set up facebook pages for other’s in the horticultural industry such as the JC Raulston Arboretum and TarHeelGardening (North Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association.) We can receive feedback directly from our friends everyday. We stay in front of them, reminding them of what we do and hope they will click through to reap the benefits the association offers.

    I am rethinking my time on Twitter. But that displaced time will be spent on facebook. H.

  23. I got into Twitter because my publisher and other book industry people were there. For a long time, I followed exclusively book business people and thought of it as a “news ticker” for news in that industry. It’s great for that–for almost any industry. Now I’m a bit more omnivorous in my Twitter taste.

    Both Twitter and Facebook are great fun for me when I’m on the road and just want to fiddle with my phone–sitting in an airport, etc. My use of both really goes up when I travel. They sort of keep me company.

    Or–uh–when I’m home but procrastinating when I should be writing! Like now!

  24. The first time I saw Twitter (2 yrs ago for me) I thought it was completely useless. Wondered why I needed to get updated on everyone’s coffee status. But I kept up with it, learned more about it and realized it is without a doubt one of the best tools on online to connect directly people in any field of interest. I believe it’s completely changed our level of accessibility and the way we interact with individuals and businesses.

    Facebook is also a great way of connecting and sharing and I utilize it daily. With over 500M users, (nearly 1/2 are active users) why would any marketer turn down an opportunity to connect with others on such unprecedented levels?

    And all this at virtually no cost…It’s a no brainer!!!

  25. Wow, so many have said what I would say. I’m not on Facebook, and I don’t have a cell phone so I don’t do Twitter. Twitter would be a huge challenge for me as honestly I’m sometimes long-winded.

    I do keep a garden blog (formerly a catch-all blog), and I usually post once a week. It fulfills my need to write.

    I LOVE my blog, but I don’t share it frankly because I’m insecure. Have been stung by folks who behave differently when they write than they do face-to-face.)

  26. Don’t do facebook or twitter, but I don’t think of them as abominations (and so I didn’t take your poll–none of the answers fit my thoughts). I have watched my kids and their experiences of facebook, and while I don’t think they’ll ever give them up, I can see how their lives are affected by it. Especially work; they have to be mindful of who might see what they put there, and who is their friend or not, etc. Also, it takes up a lot of time and energy that can go to other relationships and activities. But I can see the value in communication too. since I am not cybernetically agile enough to feel comfortable using these technologies, I just stay away, and frankly, I don’t feel I am missing out on anything–or maybe, whatever I’m missing out on therer, perhaps I’m makingup for in other ways.

    Twitter just seems like gossip.

  27. I was a skeptic of both Facebook and Twitter for a while. Finally I got a FB account only because there is another Pam Penick in Austin, she had a FB account without a photo, and I thought people might think she was me. I generally can’t be bothered to post what I’m doing (who cares?), but I use my business Facebook page to reach out to new clients, and I post links to my blog posts there. A number of readers have told me they appreciate those links because they use FB but won’t subscribe to a blog’s feed.

    What surprised me, though, was how much I enjoyed Twitter once I finally tried it. (Which I did only because I felt like I was missing out on conversations between bloggers in Austin.) I follow people who tweet mainly about gardening, and I tend to unfollow folks who go on about what they’re having for dinner, etc. The great thing I discovered was that I could connect directly with garden editors and publishers, which led to my getting a writing assignment at a major gardening magazine. It never would have happened without Twitter, I think. In that regard, it’s a very useful networking tool.

  28. I started on Twitter because “THEY” (you know, the authoritative THEM) said that as a business you need to be on Twitter. Um… if there are potential landscape design clients on Twitter, I’m not finding them. However, where Twitter has been great has been meeting and talking to other designers from around the country, including several whom I really, really respect. So, from a personal/ professional development standpoint, I think it’s worth doing.

  29. Helen took the words right out of my mouth – ‘ditto’ to what she and Kat White said. Twitter opened up amazing doors for me over the past 2 years but has since lost a bit of its luster (maybe I just need a break from it). Facebook is now my preferred method of communicating with like-minded professionals. I don’t use it to follow family or friends so much as to connect with those in my industry. I love it and the friends I’ve met virtually AND in person have completely enriched my life.

  30. Facebook is about the gym visits and Caribbean vacations of people you never liked in high school.

    Twitter is about NEWS! Check out our friend @xrisfg (the Flatbush Gardener), or @michael pollan, or @bittman (NY Times food writer Mark Bittman)– or Rant’s own very plugged-in Amy Stewart if you want to understand the medium.

    I’ve started following some science writers, too, thanks to the influence of my husband @jeffgoodell and the delightful Oliver Morton, @Eaterofsun.

  31. Agreed that Twitter is best to follow for NEWS – esp when something BIG happens like say a multi-car crash on your commute — you get immediate feedback and info — TV/radio news and others take hours to catch up (if they ever do report it) — often they are just following off Twitter posts too…
    This is #1 reason I tell people to get on Twitter and follow their local town/county # tags. There was a gunman at the college next to me, the “emergency alert” from our “first responders” took over an hour to be emailed to me, but on Twitter I knew within 3 minutes what was happening and could warn neighbors to stay indoors.

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