Orgasms, first-date sex, my wild fantasies… what do I have left to share? Surprisingly, a lot. Though with each snippet of truth; sprinkle of openness and pinch of past whizzing to life in the flurry of my fingers tapping my keyboards, I ponder: Am I sharing too much online?
Within an hour, my (somewhat) online stalker had sent repetitive emails. One-sided conversations he felt convinced I was participating in. “Text me before I fly”, he said. “I’m sorry hon, I’ve had problems with my phone. Look, you can message me now.”
Why was he forming an insatiable desire for my attention? After scrolling through paragraphs of his thoughts (sent via email), a Facebook notification appeared. He had shared my post: Sending Nudes Shouldn’t Be an Issue. A Style of Laura Jane classic (if I do say so myself), the post challenges the stigma women face when their sexual photos become public. An article addressing how girls feel either empowered or pressured to send nudes, and as sexually confident or victimised women, they shouldn’t have to accept any shame.
My stalker read the post as: ‘I love taking pictures of myself nude. Please contact me to receive pics.’ That’s what I gathered from the comment he attached to the link he posted on his personal Facebook. Maybe he thought he’d get lucky.
Online Vs. offline personality
I’ve always believed each of us play a character online – we have two personas. Recently, I feel my alter ego merging. My personality is spilling out; I’m holding back less on how I feel. My friends know I’m incredibly opinionated, I discuss unconventional topics, I’m very sarcastic. Perhaps that’s now coming across to people who haven’t met me in real life.
The Guardian published an article linking various studies to how our behaviour online reflects our personalities. The piece suggests our social media and internet use, reveals the many facets of us. Studies for instance, can connect how extroverted we are, based on our social media interaction.
While true – my lack of Instagram Live proves my anxiety at not being pre-prepared, I can’t say I’m as equally open day-to-day. I can happily publish a post on how I feel about pubic hair to my social media community and strangers who find me on Google, yet I’d never approach the subject ten minutes into meeting someone. I’m one of those people who will begin to mumble about the weather when a passer-by is in ear-shot of my conversation.
In addition to people showing more openness online, my post on mean internet comments divulged how the world wide web brings out our darker sides, with a study suggesting a lack of eye contact could be partly to blame.
What leads to sharing too much online?
After The Anna Nicole Show, reality T.V seemed to dominate E! and eventually most T.V channels. Celebrities began to achieve fame through gossip. The more they’d reveal, the more we knew of them. My generation have developed beside the magazines promoting shocking stories and key life events. Stars who have done nothing but enter a jungle, house or singing competition.
And thanks to social media, we can all join in on the act. As Forbes says, sharing “personal problems” has become “socially acceptable”. The piece notes how the self-help industry has pushed for authenticity. Which as they reference, has twisted to mean sharing your “darkest secrets.”
We use to complain (and probably still do) at how unrealistic social media portrays people. This caused a directional push – people started posting their unflattering photos and detailing their insecurities. That then followed with “sad-fishing” – a term coined to describe people purposely writing sad thoughts for sympathy and attention.
I think it boils down to fulfilling basic human needs. Through blogging and posting pictures, I can relate, connect, unleash, feel value in my thoughts. Society tells us that fame is everything. The happiest people, are the most important, the most well-known. People are interested in the juicer reveals. They want to know the deeper feelings. And therefore, to maintain or grow a large following, we have to give more detail and insight then we may initially desire.
We blend in with everyone else. Not talking about your mental health and worries almost sounds taboo in 2020.
I can’t tell you how many tweets I’ve quickly deleted, due to worry my sentences will suffer criticism. According to Wired, many of us suffer from post-anxiety. After pressing publish, we experience doubt. And as the publication iterates, the web holds no mercy. The minute you take something out of your mind, you cannot bring it back.
The angry reactions, the sad emotions. Funnily, it’s not the sex stuff or the mental health that triggers my anxiety post-sharing. Last year, I hid a relationship post where I enclosed private details about a situation. I realised, this person from my past means all kinds of things, and as a writer, a simple blog wouldn’t justify our memories. Sometimes, I wonder if I was to pass away, would truths from the past (how I see them) haunt some people?
Through Google, posts from 2017 have reached a new audience. Words I have grown from, and images that today look embarrassing. One photo from my past landed on a hate site where more than a thousand women clicked.
The internet makes us one-sided
Any stranger can read one post, tweet, caption… and form an entire opinion. Our narratives are poured for anyone to break apart and analyse. The analysis may turn to support and love, or hate and dislike. And with oversharing – a sense we owe something. Like when random guys continually message, thinking I’m indebted to give my time to them, because my image or words have triggered them.
Since running my blog, I’ve read unattractive words about myself on forums and posts. I’m confident most of us have been screenshotted negatively – we just don’t know about it. It’s amazing the fury that can brew, upon you doing something someone else doesn’t agree with.
In questioning if you’re sharing too much online, you firstly ought to consider safety. Wariness over your location and personal details. I try to avoid tagging myself at a place when I’m still there. Secondly, ask why you’re choosing to share. Will your sharing remove privacy from loved-ones? Can you handle people not being interested? Are you trying to get someone’s attention? What would happen if a future employer saw?
As a society (please try to ignore my hypocrisy here), I do think we’re sharing too much. It can make us vulnerable – a false sense people care about us. A few may do, but some simply engage for drama and curiosity. We’re feeding a social media addiction. And for those affected, how will they cope when it disappears? You need a strong mentality to separate the love you receive online vs the people who stand by you.
Words are powerful and currently permanent. How do we actually know the true damage of oversharing in the infancy of our digital tech? At what stage will we stop?
How do you feel about people sharing too much online? Do you have certain limits? In the online world, sharing too much online represents confidence. Do you think those confident to say whatever, are more admired?