Young narcissists use Twitter as a megaphone. Older narcissists use Facebook to purge their insecurities and gain a sense of belonging.
Now, researchers have concluded that the amount of time a person spends on a social media site speaks volumes about his or her personality. The more you tweet, the bigger your ego, and the more you Facebook, the bigger your need for approval.
So says a new study from the University of Michigan, appropriately titled "Mirror or Megaphone?: How relationships between narcissism and social networking site use differ on Facebook and Twitter." Based on two surveys -- one of a mostly female group of college undergrads, the other of a mostly female group of middle-aged adults -- the study showed people who tweet obsessively tend to be show-offs, grandstanders and personal branders, whereas those who post on Facebook are more concerned with their own appearance.
Those findings validate the conventional wisdom that Twitter is the more youthful, millennial, me-centric social network. Facebook is the province of older people who like to showcase pictures of pasta dishes, or post status updates about their kids. We'd hazard to say it's a crutch for people who can't get out of the house much, but still seek validation from their peers. Incidentally, the median age of Facebook users has risen from 38 to 41 over the last few years, according to various social media studies. A recent spate of alarmist headlines suggested that teenagers may, in fact, be ditching Facebook.
Even more interesting, though, is the way that social network users reacted to this study when it began proliferating on Facebook and Twitter. In our *extremely scientific* sample, Twitter users tended to manually repost the link in a way that gave themselves credit for finding it. Facebook users, in contrast, "Liked" the link and then followed up with elaborate comments explaining their position on the issue.