Social media. Does our presence on it define us? Does it really say anything deep or meaningful about us? I mean who gives a shit really, right? Recently my boyfriend and I got into a debate about social media. It started on the topic of military service men/women that seem to overshare and even at times put our country in jeopardy with the things they share (i.e. pictures of themselves pissing on the corpses of dead enemy combatants). Most of the things that come into question are pretty despicable and shouldn’t even be happening in the first place, but as we were talking about it I argued that social media really shouldn’t be such a difficult thing to give up. I mean, if you’re making a decision to serve your country (which in my opinion is the most noble and selfless sacrifice one can make), giving up your Facebook or Instagram should be no biggie right? Or at least shouldn't be such a difficult thing to censor from things that really shouldn't be shared.
Well, from my dude’s perspective the answer was no. He made the argument that social media is becoming more normalized and embedded in people at a younger and younger age. Which is true. I mean I had a MySpace at 16, but it wasn’t a huge part of my life. But now, people have Instagrams before they are even born (referring to moms who set up Instagrams for their babies brewing in their bellys), use an iPad at the dinner table and learn a tweet is something you type not something you hear out of a bird’s beak. He argued that since people are starting on this stuff younger and younger it has become so normalized that the act of tweeting or updating a status isn’t even a thought—it’s second nature. So therefore the filter of inappropriateness or discretion doesn’t even come into play.
And while there are positive and negative things about allowing someone so young be exposed to social media, that is not the topic of my query. I just wonder why are people so invested in oversharing on social media? It has become very normal to see people update their Facebook statuses with information that belongs in a diary, not a public forum. Instagram pictures that share a moment in someone’s day constantly show up on my feed that makes me cringe, like visits to the gynecologist, pictures/rantings about an ex, Kobe Bryant’s open wound during surgery—you get the idea. It seems that a tool that was designed to help us (re)connect, share information, discover new things, and possible stalk exes has become a platform for TMI.
I’m not one to tell people what to express and what not to express. That’s really not my business, and in the words of the great and ever wise Kevin Hart “Do you boo boo.” But I can’t help but feel that this culture of oversharing is desensitizing our society by leaving nothing to the imagination and nothing really to look forward to discovering. I mean, do we really need another YouTube video of someone ranting against a collective group? Whenever I see those videos I'm appalled that the person hit "Post" after re-watching the monsterous rant. Personally, I share mostly bullshit on the internet. Pictures from vacation, stupid/mildly hilarious things that happen to me—but mostly it boils down to pictures of my dog and my fresh manicure. Fluff stuff. Nothing too deep nor important. And when I do feel like I have something to say about something, I write a post about it here. I’ve never announced my relief at getting my period on Facebook; never tweeted a declaration of heartbreak; never Instagrammed a picture of my chesticles. There are just somethings you don’t do. Yeah, it’s the internet so why take it so seriously. But seriously, a lot of people do take that seriously.
How are you going to explain to an employer why your default picture is of you licking your friend’s boob? Or how you supremely creepily tweeted that you were at the doctor getting your junk checked out? It’s these concerns that continually remind me of how much of a grandma I am. Because I am way too aware of how I will look to a complete stranger on a screen. It’s not that I’m so worried about what strangers think of me. It’s mostly just the strangers who could possibly hire me/accept me into their graduate school program. And when I see the cringe worthy oversharing done by other people all I can think of is how permanent the internet is and that their kids will find those embarrassing pictures just as quickly as you found your exe’s new dime on Facebook. Creeped out yet?
And can you imagine the type of senators and congressmen we’re going to have on our hands in the future? People these days resign over one dick pic (that isn’t even a dick pic, but rather a boxer briefs pic). I can’t wait to see the dudes running for office have their college years’ internet presence revealed full of beer bongs, penises drawn on their face while passed out, and status updates that continually objectify women.
My point is all of these platforms can be used for good. To spread information, bring awareness to a cause, or promote your latest venture. But once everything in your life becomes fair game to put out there, I think that is when the sacredness of your thoughts and emotions go out the window. If you feel the need to express something that would generally be private, do it in a way that gives what you feel justice and meaning. Because cramming genuine expression into 140 characters seems pretty inauthentic to me.