When it comes to our online presence or persona, how much do you share? And how do you connect with your people without overstepping their need for privacy or over-sharing about yourself?
I think as a society and as individuals we’re all still figuring out the “rules.” Some rules are really obvious, don’t post your social security number on facebook- there are many others privacy and safety concerns, norms basically, of what not to share, but when it comes to what to share it really varies by individual.
I’ll admit that I’m a pretty open book. I share more than some people do online, that’s for sure, but I don’t think I’m an over-sharer, at least online (now with a few cocktails that’s another story). I have never untagged a photo and I will almost always share with my friends about hard things that are going on with me. Maybe not to the extent that I might give full details if I’m in a bad place, but generally, what you see is what you get with me.
Why am I like that? I am naturally extroverted, and as a kid I remember my grandma burning pictures or cutting herself out of them. When she passed I had so few pictures of her and I wished she had saved more for us. So, I let my images lay. Other people might want to see that picture of me someday and it’s the truth so I am OK with it. Don’t get me wrong, I do hate a double chin shot, but you know what? Sometimes I have a double chin- that’s real, so that’s OK with me.
There are some things I don’t share: I don’t trash talk, discuss sex, and you’ll never find my mug in a ‘glamor shot’. I just want to be my real self without getting too weird about it.
Something I’ve been considering recently is how to respect the boundaries of others and their online presences, while still being able to be my mostly open self. I know where my line is, but what about other people? I might be fine with sharing whatever photo that is taken of me, but I cannot assume that everyone feels this way.
If you meet up with a friend, take a picture of them with a cocktail, then post it on Instagram and their user name is their business name- is that a problem? What if you mention their business in the post if you’re talking business? For some this would overstep and others would be flattered to have their businesses mentioned. Where is the line between you sharing moments of your life and another person’s right to privacy?
Photos are really a microcosm of what we can share online: a post, check-in or really anything we share, if it’s directly affecting another person or a group of people, I feel we should tease through these scenarios case by case, think about our impact on others and ask our friends about their privacy lines.
As we get more and more used to this new level of sharing that most of us have at our fingertips, I think the rules of these boundary lines will begin to become more clear. I for one, plan to continue to talk with friends to get a better sense of their boundaries, so that I can be a good friend and a respectful online citizen.
And I’m the introvert- I can be really quiet at times, I keep a lot of my private thoughts private, but when there’s a pen in my hand, a keyboard under my fingers or the ear of someone I love and trust beside me- I spill. I’m an open book.
Which means, I actually feel I share a lot online- through my blog mostly, and right here- my desires and struggles, thoughts and experiences. I feel like I share a lot of the big stuff, the real stuff, the important stuff.
I feel comfortable enough to share that with the people closest to me, and with you blog readers, too! Maybe it’s because when it’s a space I’ve created, if you’re coming to it, I feel like I’m in the company of friends and can be as open as I would around people I know and trust.
Social media feels different to me tho- eventhough blogs are “out there”, they’re still mostly being read by people who want to read them. Facebook, twitter, instagram, etc seems much more exposed to me, more open to strangers, to spam followers, to at least a portion of people who don’t really know and/or care about your life, they’re just following to follow (probably just so you’ll follow back, cause all they care about are the numbers.)
It begins to feel like the equivalent of small talk to me or being at a big party full of casual acquaintances (both things I dislike in real life!) Instead of having a bunch of tiny conversations with a bunch of different people about the weather and where I went that day, I’d much rather have long, real conversations with just a few folks.
So I don’t share a lot of “what I’m up to” or the random thoughts and tid-bits during my days on social media. I notice the only time I naturally reach for twitter or instagram, is when I’m bored- which is a rarity- not when I’m out doing things, engaging and enjoying life. It doesn’t even occur to me to take a pic and instagram it when I’m actually doing something “instagrammable!”
But that’s my natural inclination because I’m a loner, kind of anti-social- I’m just not used to jumping to share the day-to-dayness of my life with others like that. I’m trying to focus on just living it.
That brings up a-whole-nother bag of conversation about the line between documenting your life, and doing things in life just so you have something to blog about, or share on facebook, or whatever…it’s such a strange dynamic.
I’m personally a little scared at the constant interaction between human and machine and I know that interaction is only going to get more and more entwined and confusing as we progress. So, for now, I’ll pry open my heart, dissect my brain and spill it out for you all to see online because I feel it’s valuable and that’s what I actually like sharing- my view from here, so to speak.
But the day-to-day ups and downs, conversations, experiences, whines and small joys- those are moments I tend not to share with the online world, moments I want to keep just for me- and I think that’s ok.