Twitter Is Amazing, Facebook Pretty Much Useless

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Over the weekend, a dude who writes a blog for Gawker criticized Sheryl Sandberg for posting the story of how she was supposed to be on the plane that crashed at SFO on Facebook (FB) as her status update.

Now, mind you, this comes from a guy who scribes for an organization that would have stepped over deceased colleagues to write the headline, publish the story and make it go viral if one of their own experienced the same set of circumstances. But, that aside, I guess this cat from Gawker thinks Waylon Jennings should've keep his mouth shut about what happened when he opted for ground over air transport after playing a show with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper in 1959.

While the Gawker blogger Googles details of that freakish story, I digress.

I've never been in the situation Sandberg was over the weekend, though I have heard others tell similar tales. For instance, I have a buddy who would have been on a collapsed freeway during the 1989 World Series earthquake in the Bay Area had he not decided to go to the game. I can only imagine the emotions you process when something like that happens. It should come as no surprise that you feel the need to tell the world.

This somewhat selfish, ultimately therapeutic desire doesn't diminish the relative importance of lives lost, paralysis and other life-changing injuries, serious burns and mind-numbing psychological aftereffects for passengers as well as the crew, including a few pilots who could very well be on suicide watch.

Sandberg used the medium she's a major part of to share human drama. After all, that's what makes Facebook and other social media tick. Like anything else, it is at its best when it makes an emotional connection with the user. And really, Facebook only came through for the world during tragedy with Sandberg's post. There wasn't much else that happened over there -- at least not that I know of -- that made us look twice.

Because we want to look twice. And we should. We need to.

It's difficult to make sense of such horrifying events. First, there's the over-the-top drama. Second, the violence that, for once, isn't man-made (at least not intentionally). Third, that could have been me, flying next to my wife and daughter, just like I was one week earlier from LAX to Toronto.

That could have been you, by yourself or as part of a similarly meaningful combination.

Even in day-to-day discourse with strangers, these are the types of events that bring us together. It's tough to be a jerk to the person next to you when you're trying to make sense of a logical accident you want to call senseless. Because even though it makes perfect sense, you get a well-deserved pass for calling it senseless.

Twitter, as it does consistently these days, came through for us. It's a medium perfectly suited to not only deliver instant news and information, but satisfy the psychological cravings we all possess during national tragedy.

Plenty of folks want to point out shortcomings at the cable news networks. Twitter has news instantly; I turn on CNN and there's nothing. This isn't a fault of CNN or a badge of innovative honor for Twitter.

Back in the day, CNN was first when "news broke." Twitter came along and changed the standard. But you can't tell me Jack Dorsey or even Dick Costolo ever though the social network was headed in precisely the direction it did at conception and even as it evolved. It just sort of happened. And now it's out of control, but we do not or at least should not want to stop it or contain it.

Twitter will end up a multi-generational force, like newspapers, radio and the still dominant television industry. The SFO coverage Twitter facilitated -- you really can't say curate -- is a classic example of why Dorsey's creation will live and, over the long run, Mark Zuckerberg's will die.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in New York City

Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.

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