For most of my years, I have considered myself pretty open about my life; there are things that I won’t necessarily shout from the rooftops, but neither will I deny it if anyone asks. What exactly do I have to hide? Yet in this digital age where it’s possible for people to document their lives on a minute by minute basis, whether it be through pictures, tweets or statuses, part of me now suddenly finds myself shrinking back when it comes to updating on “real time.” I can’t pinpoint a specific reason exactly; it’s not that I totally want to disengage from technology, because I do consider Facebook and Twitter to be positive forces when used appropriately. But when online platforms somehow morph into online diaries (which happened a lot when I was a teenager), then it becomes a problem.
Recently, there was a bit of an uproar in regards to this subject: there were a period of days where at least one person would say something along the lines of “I hate it when people post…” almost to where it turned into a laugh-out-loud rant. Then I came across 7 Ways To Be Insufferable on Facebook which I might have considered interesting had it not come across as conceited and taken on a holier than thou tone. Everybody that engages in social networking will say or do something ridiculous and most likely more than once. Demanding that users do or stop doing things because supposedly “nobody likes it” is not going to produce change. While I’ll agree that there are things better left off the world wide web, I cannot control it. It’s actually rather simple: if you don’t like it, don’t look at it. And if a person is going to take trivial stuff that seriously, perhaps the problem isn’t just other internet users.
However, there are times where I see something and wonder not about the actual post, but the motivation behind it. Do some users update Twitter and Facebook because they genuinely care about the subject, or is it just for the sake of reaction? I’m not as concerned with the political fiends or the gym buffs, but more so with the romantics. There’s no shame in applauding your significant other/spouse in regards to their achievements and your milestones together. On the other hand, when you constantly proclaim your love over the internet, whether it be literally or giving a detailed synopsis about what you did that day, I scratch my head. What are you trying to prove?
I understand that not everyone has the same views on how to treat a relationship, but I’d like to think that connection and possibly real love is fostered face to face, not screen to screen. When you constantly broadcast details that should remain between you and that person, it suddenly becomes everyone else’s business; as much as they shouldn’t be nosy, anything that goes online is almost fair game for criticism or questioning. Being able to distinguish the difference between gratitude/humbleness and a honeymoon-like phase probably makes it easier to stay rooted in what matters.
With that being said, I wonder if it’s a bad thing if I choose not to share every single detail, not necessarily just online, but also in terms of “gushing” around friends. I’m definitely a believer in vulnerability, but dissecting the event or a conversation is not going to get anywhere. Overall, I’m just really selective now a days about who I confide in; it really depends on that person’s attitude.
Lately, I’m more focused on my social media profiles being positive and encouraging to others. When used in a healthy amount and for the right reasons, Facebook and Twitter can be a good thing. As a writer, it’s very important for me to be active in using the internet in order to get my name out there. I’ve connected with a lot of people through things like LinkedIn, and ultimately it has given me a lot of insight in terms of the career path that I want to take, which I might not have found otherwise.
But it’s not just about what you post/upload, but when. It’s almost normal to take a picture and then spend five to ten minutes afterward trying to put it on instagram. Tweets document the most trivial stuff in regards to when and where something is taking place. In my personal opinion, the worst is hearing the news of a loved one’s passing on Facebook before getting a phone call or text. I say that because I’ve been on the tail end of it several times, and it’s all the more devastating, not to mention inappropriate.
I’m not saying that it’s ultimately a bad thing to share photos or news with others, especially those you don’t get to see often. Rather, I think sharing right away often takes away from the sacredness and beauty of the moment, because then it becomes more about presentation then anything else. Instead of trying to keep everyone else in “real time” focus on celebrating, mourning, or doing whatever you need to do with those that you’re surrounded by. You have to be present in order to get the most out of an experience, or process something in a healthy way. The internet can wait, and it will still be there in the days and weeks to come.
This is not meant to knock anyone down or demand change. This is more for the sake of pondering in an era that is largely based on virtual and constant connection. More so, I’ve learned that the number of views, likes, and comments is not going to fill you in the long run. If you take the time to put down your phone, get off the computer, and devote your attention to what’s right in front of you, you’ll eventually find out what will.