The "Over Sharing" Epidemic: How The Internet Makes Us Cheapen Our Private Lives
By Adeyeye Eyitayo
Today, everyone seems to have a “digital self.” Our status updates on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, watsapp reveal a bit about who we are to the public. And as we know from countless controversies regarding celebrities and politicians, our “digital self” is intertwined with our public image and reputation.The internet and social media give us the ability to broadcast our thoughts and feelings to the world at a moment’s notice. While there are many advantages to this ability to instantly communicate and reach out to others, it also breeds an environment of over-sharing.
Every time you post photo or update your status, you are contributing to your own digital footprint and personal brand. With so many people now on social media tweeting links and posting selfies and sharing YouTube videos, it can sure get pretty noisy sometimes. Overtime, we tend to rack up a lot of friends and followers and that can lead to lots of bloated news that can’t be undone. We often share on social media to express our “true selves.” This desire often stems from our need for a “sense of belonging.”
We have a natural desire to be accepted by others. Having strong social ties is an important factor in our success and evolution as human beings. When other people “like” or “share” our updates, we often get a temporary high from it in our brains. However, when we over-share on social media we become “approval-seeking machines.” Every thought, feeling, and opinion needs to be circulated to the public, and we no longer have a sense of what should be kept private.” And social media has given us a way to craft this identity and share it with anyone. But in the midst of all that, we’ve become obsessed with our public appearance and reputation. We’ve become obsessed with signaling to others who we really are.
WHEN DO I FIND MYSELF “OVERSHARING”?
I find myself “over-sharing” when my mind feels overloaded and I feel like I need to purge some of my thoughts and feelings.
Whenever I try to look smart, witty and interesting and as such trying to manage the other person’s impression of me. Oftentimes when we’re looking at the screen we’re not face –to-face with someone who can immediately respond with us, so it’s easier to let it all out. It’s almost like we are invisible.
CONSEQUENCES OF “OVERSHARING” REPUTATION – To quote Warren Buffett, “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and only five minutes to ruin it”, and with the rise of social media it feels like it could take a lot less than five minutes to potentially damage your online reputation. People often base their opinion of you or your business on what they see and read online, even if they might not know you personally.
DON’T POST WHEN YOU’RE FEELING EMOTIONAL
We have all at one time or another said and done things in anger that we later regretted and wished we could take back. These things are harder to take back when they are published on line. When we’re in the heat of the moment, going rogue on social media usually isn’t the best idea. Instead of quickly responding to a friend’s comment am you take issue with, consciously take a break from social media in order to give yourself the proper time and space to process your feelings and to collect your thoughts before posting a response.
PREPARE YOURSELF FOR NEGATIVE RESPONSES
Before engaging in a public discourse, ask yourself: “Am I prepared to receive a barrage of negative responses?” If you think negative feedback and comments will make you feel upset or angry, hold off on posting. Instead, consider calling.
It is equally important to navigate our online relationships with the same level of care we navigate our real life relationships-perhaps to an even greater level, as social media lacks a personal connection.
Paul Booth, a professor at DePaul University in Chicago: “Our interactions on social media tend to be weak ties — that is we don’t feel personally connected to the people on the other end of our communication as we do when face-to-face.”
Ergo, when sharing information on social networks, it’s vital to be fully conscious of the implications and potential risks it can involve. It’s extremely important to be aware of privacy settings, to control the reach your messages might have across the web. What you decide to share on social networks is a personal choice and as a result, different people have different ideas over what constitutes oversharing. Nevertheless, be mindful that you have to be willing to live with the consequences.
Whenever you “like” or “share” something on social media, you need to understand that you are sending out a signal to other people, and they are going to form a judgement about you based on that signal.So generally it is a good policy to conduct yourself on social media just as you would in a similar group and context The the real world.
If you wouldn’t openly say it to a roomful of people, don’t say it on a social network!