Posted on: 12.12.2012
Social media is such a fascinating phenomenon and whenever something becomes a phenomenon people are always going to try and "understand" or explain it.
I learned early on that not all people were made the same, and with that comes that not all families were made the same. My family talks about anything and everything with each other, ranging from the gross to the funny, which to be honest, usually is the same thing in our house.
The conversations I would have at my house would be very different at someone else's house because to them that subject matter might be "gross" or "inappropriate" or simply "too much information." You pick up early on what is "too much" for other people and you tend to edit yourself accordingly when you are around them. I for one have always had a problem editing myself to make others feel more comfortable. Heck, I just wrote whole blog post about scratching my own mole off! - I did warn readers before they continued, you know, for those sensitive to oversharing ;)
But who gets to decide what too much information is? What is too much for one person is fine for another. The other day my friend shared an article on facebook from the the opinion section of the New York Times, it was written by Roger Cohen, and it was a great article about oversharing online.
He goes on to explain how he thinks as a society we have a status anxiety problem that is what prompts us to overshare online with each other. That we think that if we continue to overshare that it results in "more followers" or "more likes" online.
While he makes some good points about the idea of it being somewhat of a popularity contest, because at the end of the day who doesn't want to be liked? I think the idea was a little too overarching.
Personally I think that no matter how hard we try we can't possibly understand the social media world yet. It still feels too new to "get it." But if we are going to try, here I go. While I think Cohen makes some great points about what drives some people to overshare online, I felt he was missing a huge key point about what social media is for.
Yes, we have all read the facebook status of a love sick teenager, or the tweet that went into details about something we found disgusting and gross to share online, but at the end of the day what is gross to you might not be gross to someone else. Social media is all about sharing, so that fact that you can possibly "overshare" on it is a tad ironic. We all have a different idea of what oversharing is, so why should one edit oneself for you?
I personally think that the main reason people get so involved in social media is because people love to share in the common human experiences, not because they have status anxiety. In fact, Cohen's whole point was that people overshare to increase popularity etc. on social media, but usually if someone is posting stuff I don't like online, I unfollow them. They have a right to post whatever they want, and I have a right to read whatever I want.
People go to social media to read about what other people are doing and to share what they are doing. If they appreciate good food and want to post a picture of their dinner that night, great! If they want to write about how they have to go see their OBGYN later that afternoon, well they can do that to, and I don't think it has anything to do with them freaking out that they don't have enough of a popular following online that they need to. The whole notion of being popular is something that seeps its way into every aspect of life, it is not special to social media.
Social media is an outlet for people to connect and share. I for one like to think that most people get involved in it to keep and make connections, and to share whatever they want with each other. There is a time and place for everything, and shouldn't your personal social media outlets be a place for you, at least?
It is one of those situations where you can't please everyone, and if you get a laugh about writing about the one time you crapped your pants, go for it. Because the second someone starts deciding what should be deemed "appropriate" or not for you to be sharing, is the day that all the fun and joy gets sucked out of this amazing, intricate world of social media. So from one "oversharer" to another, keep it coming, because I for one sure am enjoying it, cringes and all.