Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Pinterest. Google +, GChat, Smartphones, Computers, Tablets etc. It feels endless. We’re connected all the time. If you want to get away from people, you would literally have to remove yourself from your surroundings and not take any devices with you. The technology generation is what we’ve become and our ability to share our thoughts with others at any moment is vast and various. And it’s good, it’s great; I love it. But sometimes, it’s just too much.
I am arguably an active social media user. I love the ability to share thoughts with people anywhere in the world – people I know and people I don’t know. I love finding news and information and stories that I would not otherwise be aware of, were it not for the prevalence of social media and the technologies that we have. It has changed the way we communicate and the rate at which we communicate. At any given moment, we can be made aware of the trends and thoughts of people thousands of miles away from us. Yet there are times I feel that social media and our technologies have turned us into a generation of over-sharers.
I believe in the liberty of people to say what they want to say. Every now and then, I even flirt with the notion of being a free speech purist because I think that it is a God-given right of mankind. Yet I also believe in common sense, however rare it is in practice. And I also encourage the perspective that just because one has the right to say something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one should say it. What does this have to do with social media and our culture of oversharing? Well, it seems to me that people exercise their liberty to speak freely on these platforms, which is all well and good. But from my observation, it too often comes at an expense of not exercising the sometimes unspoken responsibilities of speech, one of which is thinking, and thinking before one speaks.
Every day, on the internet, I am truly flawed at what people are willing to share with the world. Personal stories about relationships, and sex, and family difficulties are not even given a second thought before they are expressed on social media accounts. Uninformed political and religious opinions, hasty reactions, and an all-round need to inform people all-day, every-day, about what one is doing and when and why and how. Is it really necessary?
I understand that I am not the arbiter of what is acceptable and not acceptable on social media. I have been guilty of sharing insignificant thoughts and comments with the world as well. Just the other day, I felt the need to tell the world on Twitter that I was going to complete all my final papers in 72 hours. Why did I do it? Is it because I could? Is this information important? Or is it because social media has inflated my ego to the point that I think that it is imperative for other people – many of whom don’t know me personally – to be made aware that I have final papers to write? And this is not even terribly private information; it’s just information that I don’t think anyone really cares about but me. So why the need to share it with others?
I don’t like to share a lot of intimate details of my life online because to me it’s not the place for it. And even then, sometimes I’m embarrassed at all the trivial things about me that I am willing to share with the world. And then I see a lot of people go on and on about boyfriends and girlfriends and break-ups and make-ups. I see people sharing intimate details of pregnancy and marriage and children. I witness angry rants about politics, religion, career, friendships, and the list goes on.
Why do we share so many personal things? Is it simply because we can? Is it because we want others to know and weigh in on our opinions? Or is it also because the internet and social media has led us to be a pompous generation of people who think that others should know and care about every detail of our lives? Is it because these technologies and platforms give us a false sense of being connected with people? Because in reality, our intimate relationships are not a reflection of our online interactions. And my fear is that our egos are being led to believe that they are which can only be detrimental. Why are we sharing what we’re sharing? It’s a question worth asking as a generation, and individually.
When it’s all said and done, people are going to do what they want to do. I know that all too well and it’s always brought me a sense of closure any time I’ve made a social commentary on anything. I am of the opinion that “let he or she who has ears, hear.” I know better than to tell someone what they should share and not share because who am I, anyway? But I do know this: social media, technology, and this need our generation feels to constantly inform people of details, intimate details of our lives can hurt us; it can be our Frankstein monster. So while I resign myself to understanding that most of what I say will fall on deaf ears, I still solemnly caution that we think before we express ourselves, and ever more so, because of our ability to share so much information. Because too much information, like too much of anything else, has never had a constructive outcome.