life in the time of internet

I am a friendly person. I like to share my life and my stories with other people and to have them share their lives and stories with me. Connecting with people via stories contributes a great deal of joy to my life, and so I like to do it as much as possible.

That’s one of the main reasons I started this blog, to be honest. I wanted a place where I could share stories about my life with my friends and family and where I could flesh out any various thoughts running through my head. I’ve had a lot of great conversations and gotten a lot of great advice because of something I’ve written here. And I’m glad about that.

But I also know I have a tendency to over-share and to publicize things that are probably better left off-line. My blogging style is very journal-like, but it’s a very public journal. And I occasionally forget that fact.

I don’t know how many of you read my post from last Sunday, but you won’t find it now if you go back to check for it. After making the post live, I never could shake an odd, uneasy feeling about it, like it was too much to be shared in a public forum. It’s not that I shared anything inappropriate or compromising, it just was just better suited for a private account. So on Tuesday morning I took it off of public viewing.

It’s prompted a lot of introspection regarding the parts of my life that I put online. I’ve been active on social media sites for nearly a decade, from Xanga and Myspace to Twitter and Instagram, and a vast majority of my adolescent and college years have been well-documented because of it. The same can be said for many of my peers. And on the whole, we enjoy having a lot of those fun memories readily accessible online (especially via apps like Timehop).

But a lot of times I feel like we’re suffering from a culture of  “If you didn’t post it, it didn’t happen.” Now, none of us would say that outright, but I think it’s an unconscious pattern of behavior. We’ve lived so long with the ability to share our lives with everyone we’ve ever friended or followed that we forget that we don’t always have to.

And what I’m saying is not “don’t share online;” I’m saying “consider what you do share.” There is little reason to document every second of your life online. Just because you take pictures doesn’t mean they have to go on Facebook, and just because you had a small personal revelation about yourself (*ahem* Jackie *ahem*) doesn’t mean it has to go in a long, rambling blog post. There are ways to document moments in life that don’t require posting them online.

Because here’s the thing with online documentation: it’s almost always a public/semi-public event. The majority of the ways we share our lives online are not private, and that’s where I think the important line needs to be drawn when sharing. “Is this something necessary to share with other people? Or should this just stay with me?”

In the situation of my last blog post, it was a case of me blurring the lines of what really needs to be relatively-public knowledge vs. what needs to just be personal. While there was nothing inherently wrong with me sharing that content online, there was also no redeeming value to be gained from posting it. It was essentially a diary post that made its way online.

Now I share a lot of silly, random stuff on this blog that doesn’t seem to hold any value, but that stuff is fun for me. Those posts share tidbits from my life that help form a chronicle of where I’ve been in the last year and a half, and I enjoy sharing them with other people. But I forget that sometimes I can and should keep moments in my life to myself.

tl;dr: I/We share a lot of stuff online. Maybe not all of it is necessary? Food for thought.

 

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