Oversharing On Facebook

photo (4)Since the inception of my Facebook account in 2008 I’ve questioned its role in my life. At first I only friended or accepted requests from close friends, keeping my account fairly small.  Now I see it as a way of keeping in touch with friends near and far, and as a social media tool.  While my opinions regarding the efficacy and necessity of this outlet in my life have vacillated, I’ve consistently struggled with an aspect of Facebook that I find annoying: The phenomenon of oversharing.

As always, I will throw myself under the bus before delving into my observations about others.  I’m guilty of showing off my kids (and myself) whenever they happen to be dressed up, have received awards or accolades, or even just make it to the bus on time.  I proudly display my vacation pictures and rationalize that my friends will be seeing these eventually. In the old days we got together and looked at physical photo albums.  Now we participate in each other’s vacations in real time.  When I got my puppy, one of my friends (a dog lover himself) poked endless fun at me for the innumerable photos I posted daily of the new love of my life.  When is all this sharing too much?

A friend recently addressed this topic in a very public way on his Facebook timeline.  He gave me permission (in writing of course!) to share his post:

“I’ve noticed that there are a few “woe-is-me” people (attention seekers) on Facebook who are always having a problem or issue with some or other matter and posting about it. It’s always the same people and they’re forever having issues. We don’t want to know about your daily grind. Facebook should be positively informative and entertaining, not annoying. It’s become a platform for moaning and showing off. I for one don’t need to go onto Facebook to read about how someone’s steak was burnt or that someone’s spouse is a bitch/bastard. Those are not matters for Facebook. To those people, get a grip. Stop buying into the drama.”

The sentiments expressed in this post are not unique to my friend.  I’ve unfollowed friends who have the need to report each trip to the grocery store and whether they scored a successful parking spot.  I’m not particularly interested in knowing when someone has been waiting for the doctor for an hour and is “feeling annoyed,” using the inevitable emoji. A friend recently shared that she was appalled that our mutual friend posted that she was enroute to the emergency room with her mother.  She couldn’t understand what purpose that post served, and felt it was an invasion of the mother’s privacy.  What was she hoping to gain from this public post? She received a slew of comments ranging from “hope she feels better soon” to “OMG what happened?!”  I was also annoyed but not puzzled by the emergency room update, as I had been hardened after learning about the death of a neighbor’s parent via Facebook.  At the time I was shocked — now I’m used to seeing these posts and rationalize that they’re a way to get the word out and show or gain public support.

I agree that your marital strife does not belong on Facebook.  I also don’t honestly care if your steak is too rare or overdone, regardless of what you paid. Hopefully the live company around your dinner table can provide the requisite sympathy. I’m also irked by reports following a visit to the pediatrician’s office regarding the progress of a child’s latest virus, but recognize that young parents in my friends’ circles do care and comment.

I recently fractured my finger while trying to use the salad spinner (you can’t make this stuff up).  A few days later I bumped into a friend who noticed my physical therapy strap.  She was more shocked that I didn’t post it on Facebook, than she was about the dangers of salad spinners.  Why would I post about that?  It’s just not my thing.

I don’t feel that Facebook should be only positive and entertaining.  It has become a news outlet of sorts, and a way to share information and garner support for causes.  Many social and political platforms gain momentum, and recognition through social media, with overall benefits to society.  The ALS awareness ice bucket challenge is one example.  My barrage of Stand With Israel posts, is another.  Admittedly, I’m tolerant and interested in these posts until I come across one that I strongly disagree with, causing me to miss the detailed potty training updates.

We all use and view Facebook differently, and we have options:  ignore, like, comment, unfollow or unfriend.  And lately I’ve seen more and more friends exercise these choices. There will never be a consensus on the proper use of Facebook.  We will all just have to agree to disagree and continue to conduct our personal profiles as we see fit.





5 thoughts on “Oversharing On Facebook

  1. The real danger in Facebook, and yes I said DANGER Will Robinson, is in the ability of Facebook itself to manipulate emotions. Emotions are a major driver in the way we act, not think. Whoa you say! That’s scary. You don’t know why, but your DNA is saying “Holy Crap Somethings Wrong Here” the problem is it’s only saying that when you realize it’s happening.

    We think logically for the most part. It’s part of a higher level process that evolved in humans. Emotions are more of a DNA based reaction to surroundings that help us survive.

    When emotions are manipulated we react in a way controlled by the manipulator rather than by a higher level logical thought process. That has always differentiated us for Lions and Tigers. Of course we run into this every day when our spouse tries to influence us, our friends and families try to influence us etc. So what is the big deal? Well that face to face influence is the one on one human interaction we are designed to handle and we can manipulate back with equal influence. We know it’s happening for the most part. That EQUAL and perhaps opposite reaction is in our DNA also.

    Enter the most recent Facebook experiment on influencing emotions. Do a search on “Facebook Manipulated 689,003 Users’ Emotions For Science” and then let your thinking kick in. You should be scared.

    That normal emotional influence that happens one on one can balance out. Now Social media has found a way to amplify that influence to an enormous level with blazing speed.

    Well “So what you say” (you sheep…) that gives me the power to influence. Not so fast. You see that power stays in the hands of those who control Facebook not the users and not even the advertisers. That power can be used for good or bad. That power tips the compass that has kept human democratic decisions on the path that has raised mankind to the level of well being we see today. It tips it away from the general good back to the ability to control the masses through emotions not logical thinking. Not reality. Not facts. Not truth. That’s a very bad thing. It’s a bad thing because it’s unseen and unknown and unsensed. You have no defense and it will be used to control you not give you an equal ability to influence.

    Think about it, don’t react without thinking.

  2. Although I have already commented, I would like to insert another thought. In our family, we have learned, sometimes the hard way, that just because we have committed a thought to paper, DOES NOT mean that we need to send it. Smarter folks than I such as Mark Twain and Winston Churchill saw the necessity to pen an inflammatory letter to an adversary and releasing stress and angst BUT also realized the wisdom of not sending it. A harangue is very cathartic in print but once it’s exposed to the ears and eyes of others, can be very damaging whether it is your thoughts or pictures.

  3. Whatever happened to PRIVACY!?! Why are we so desperate to SHARE? The last I heard, e-mail still exists and telephones are in working order. FACEBOOK is an opportunity to vie for attention and make a statement. Does anybody really care about your family life and if they do, a friend would be in touch via the phone or e-mail. The pendulum has swung too far afield in one direction. It is time to bring it back to center and to moderation.

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