I don't really like social media; I don’t really like Facebook. I get that it has really helped the trail running community. Just watch the Twitter-sphere for confirmation. It is a major coordination and communications medium for the entire ultra running community. Admittedly, this is a good thing.

On Twitter, people think in phrases. On Facebook, people think in full sentences. Users can rise to the level of an essay on a blog. A website challenges its owner to create an organic whole. Twitter and Facebook are fundamentally democratic and populist. There is no entrance criteria, no need to construct cohesive thought, not enough content to contain quality. The writer can just blurt out any half-baked impulse that comes to mind. Witness POTUS.

Each post, article, or page represents the state of the author's mind and, all to often, its breath and depth. Twitter truncates the thought to 150 characters. Facebook allows mental states to be serialized in time, but it relieves the author of responsibility of being consistent; Facebook has no search. Search allows the reader to validate across time that the author’s mental states are consistent. It makes the author accountable to the reader or to be exposed as an undisciplined thinker. Twitter has extensive search capabilities, but there is really nothing for which to search. At 150 characters, there is no mental state worth being crystallized in words.

Facebook present posts that are a uni-dimensional stream directed in time. It only goes one way, forward. With search, Twitter and blogs are two dimensional; the reader is able to follow progress forward in time as well as precisely jump back to points of interest in the past. As an aggregate, these time-structured technologies capture the author’s evolution of mental states and allow comparison. The dimension in time is not creative; it is evolutionary and usually ad hoc.

A website takes the author beyond this constraint. Menus allow an n-dimensional map of the author’s mental states. Time is no more a factor, since everything the author writes remains on the site, unless it is unpublished. Each stack of menu items is an aggregate of pages in some way related along a single axis. The author/website creator can effectively create an infinite number of axes to represent the illusory dimensions and categories of his mind.

 This is where social media gets misused. There is no government announcement that is so simplistic that it is appropriate for Twitter. When lives are at stake, 150 characters is completely in appropriate for public statements. Likewise, readers are now placing more value on the fake news and propaganda they read on Facebook that the real media outlets. There is no accountability on Facebook sites, no depth or substance, no standards of verifiability to most of the fake news items that perniciously insinuate themselves into users’ Home pages. Readers believe whatever re-validates their own beliefs and re-Tweet/Share/Like the items. The problem has gotten so bad that it allowed one of the United States’ most enduring rivals to throw a Presidential election.

And at a more personal level, given the limited expressiveness of Twitter and Facebook, are either really worth more than five minute a day?