There is no question that the world has changed since the internet came on the scene.
The internet and the personal computer started to become popular in the 1990s. My family bought our first computer with internet access in the year 2000. I was nine years old, and I was ecstatic. My heart would race every time I signed onto America Online. I would wait with anticipation as I listened to the dial tone sounds. Then I was signed on, and I heard that deep male voice say, “You’ve Got Mail.” I would click on the little purple mailbox with the yellow envelope sticking out.
“I wonder who emailed me?!” I would think. Then I would look at my Buddy List to see which of my friends were online. I loved emailing and instant messaging people. I also loved meeting new people across the world in different chat rooms. I quickly learned different acronyms like, “LOL” and, “BRB.” However, there was one acronym that I remember, that wasn’t used as often. It was used often enough, though, that I can clearly remember it.
That acronym is: “NOYB.” It stands for, “None of Your Business.” There were a few occasions when I was instant messaging people, and I asked them a question that they weren’t comfortable answering. So they told me that it was none of my business.
As the internet evolved over time, social media became more popular. The first popular social media website was MySpace. This website was number one when I was a teenager. Now MySpace is a ghost town. MySpace was eventually replaced with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and other websites.
I’ve noticed a change in the manner in which people communicate with each other, since social media became popular.
As instant messaging faded out, and as social media became more prevalent, the internet became less anonymous. People had faces to attach to names. We are no longer chatting with anonymous individuals in a chat room. We know who everyone is, and we know more about their lives than we probably should. People began to share more and more about their personal lives on the internet. For some reason, it seems that people became compelled to inform others about what they were doing each day.
Why is it necessary for someone to post, “Going to the gym, then out to breakfast.”, on Twitter or Facebook? Then when they go out to breakfast they will be sure to post a picture of their avocado toast on Instagram. The truth is, my friend, nobody really cares about your toast. People will just pretend to care because they want you to like or comment on their pictures. The internet has become this platform where people overshare about their lives. Our relationship status, our education, our social lives, and our family gatherings are no longer a mystery.
Now is the point where I have to ask you an important question.
Are you comfortable with this change in society?
The truth is that I’m not. I’ve had to change the way that I use social media. I completely deleted my original Facebook account, and I had no social media accounts for about a year and a half. Then I created a new Facebook account about two years ago, and I am not currently on any other social media websites. My privacy settings are very strict, and I am just shy of 100 friends. I’m not embarrassed about this change in my life. People seem to collect Facebook friends the way that you would collect Pokémon cards. People want to feel popular and accepted, so they allow many people who they don’t know very well into their lives. Why are these people so entitled to knowing your business? Why do you feel so compelled to share your personal information with them? These are the questions that we need to be asking ourselves.
I have noticed that people have become increasingly nosier since social media became popular. We are so used to sharing so much about our lives with people who we hardly know, that strangers feel entitled to our personal information. We also feel entitled to their personal information. People expect other people to share intimate details about their lives. Not only do they expect this information, but they demand it! I have had people come up to me at school, and ask me very personal questions about my life, without knowing me very well. These questions were about my education and my relationship status. Sometimes I will answer a nosy question, and sometimes I won’t. I will never answer a question that I don’t feel comfortable answering. I also can’t help but wonder whatever happened to the America Online days when we used to say, “NOYB.”
I would like to remind you that you are allowed to set boundaries. You do not have to share anything about your life that you do not feel comfortable sharing. This cultural change has made society increasingly nosier, and you do not have to accept that. It is okay to tell people that certain details about your life are none of their business. You can rephrase that saying in a different way if you choose. You can say, “I don’t feel comfortable sharing that.” I would like to emphasize that this is your decision. You can express yourself however you would like, as long as you aren’t hurting anyone. You are completely in control of your life.
I don’t want this cultural phenomenon to cause you to feel violated. I love the internet, and I have been interested to see its evolution over the past 16 years. However, I miss the days when we used to tell people that it was none of their business. I think that in the future, the human race can benefit from the positive aspects of social media, while bringing back the anonymity from the past. Mystery keeps life exciting. We aren’t meant to know everything, and that’s okay.
Let’s bring NOYB back to the internet shall we?