#SocialMedia: Do We Share Too Much Online?

Social Media

Social media. One of my favourite topics to talk about, only I haven’t really voiced those opinions on here that much. I could probably write a book on my thoughts of the internet giant, but there are plenty of books already out there complaining and praising the thing most of us use every day. But working within social media, you can kind of say it has taken over my life.

There’s no way I could write all of my social media thoughts into one blog post, so I’m going to break them down under a social media hashtag – how apt.

The first topic I want to dive into with social media is whether we share too much online.

Where it all began

There are a lot of different social media platforms out there, with new ones trying to break through every day. But we all know the big players are Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube. There’s also the likes of Pinterest and Tumblr, but if I listed all social channels, we’d be here for days.

For me, the use of each social channel has changed over the years of growing up. I started out on Bebo (hopefully you remember it) and I think this is where the psychological area surrounding ‘likes = self-worth’ began, for me.

On Bebo, you were able to share three ‘love hearts’ per day on your friends’ wall, your friends list was ordered on how you chose it to be, which meant you ranked your top 12 friends from best to worst. A lot of ‘Is she really my friend?’ alarm bells would ring if you weren’t in the top four. Then there was the ‘Other Half’ which was meant to mean your boyfriend/girlfriend but of course at the time we were all only around 12 or maybe even younger, so it was your best friend. Or so you thought until someone else was already their ‘Other Half’ and so jealousy ensued. Ah, life’s greatest problem for a 12 year old.

Bebo wasn’t all bad, although the themes and neon colours left much to be desired. There wasn’t much sharing statuses or opinions, more sharing your favourite song at the time, leaving your friends nice comments, uploading pictures etc. Posting pictures of yourself, your friends or even where you live on the internet at age 12 doesn’t seem like the brightest idea, looking back.

But this was it, I had no idea at the time, but I had sacrificed myself at the helm of the social media God. It was all downhill from here.

I think, I think, I share too much online

Then came the online thought diary.

Twitter. I’ve been an account holder on Twitter since 2010. Eight years. I was thirteen years old and on Twitter. Watching Twitcams and livestreams of random boybands from Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor. It took a while for me to master, as like 90% of the population, I think my first tweet went something like, ‘No idea how to use this :L’ – when I clearly did.

I was a pretty big deal on Twitter in those days. Getting tweets from Danny De Vito, follows from James Arthur, in conversation with One Direction’s best friends. I was winning the Twitter game. When Twitter first started out, I was awestruck. It took a while for the reality that I could directly send a message to my favourite celebrities, sink in. There was no longer any need for fan-mail or writing letters to their record labels. There was now a platform to directly contact them yourself, and you could watch them respond and follow other people. At the time, it was pretty mind-blowing.

As the years started to pass and I hit my terrible teens, the internet became widely available on mobile phones – introducing the iPod Touch and my first Blackberry phone – and I was hooked, tweeting everything that came into my head. I thought I was being humourous, supplying my followers with information about me that they did not care for or need to know.

I actually made quite a few acquaintances on Twitter. I wouldn’t class them as friends as we never actually met. We just bonded over our mutual complaining about the world and love for a certain boyband.

I have now amassed over 57,400 tweets. On my personal (and private) account of course, as who knows what I tweeted back in 2010, and I certainly do not want any future employer to start snooping because God only knows how many tweets I have sent to all five members of One Direction and who knows what they entail.

Anyhow, 57,400 tweets. That’s a lot of 140 character rambling. From this number alone, I can already guess that I shared way too much of my life back then. I’m very rarely on Twitter anymore, as I find it too hard to keep up once I’ve been off the grid for a while. I prefer to refresh my Instagram feed these days compared to my Twitter timeline.

Location, Location, Location

Quite possibly one of the creepiest / ‘is this even legal?’ updates came about last year in the form of ‘Snap-Map’.

This update from Snapchat allowed you to see your friends’ location at any given time, anywhere in the world. If you pinch your main screen, an image of a world map appears, with little images of your friends dotted all over the world in their current location.

Are you at home? I can see. Are you in a pub? I can see. Are you driving or on the move? I can see. Anywhere you are, I will know. Creepy, right?

But there is the option to turn it off, of course. But then begs the question, What are you hiding? Are you somewhere that you shouldn’t be? Why are you ghosting?

But those who are on ‘Ghost-mode’ are probably the most sensible of the bunch, being cautious about who can see their location at any given moment. Even if you are on ‘Ghost-mode’, you’re still able to see everyone else’s location.

Stalking made easy.

Life on the Gram

As with most social media platforms, they run their course. First there was Bebo, then we moved onto Facebook. But now Facebook has become inundated with our parents and older relatives so we’ve moved over to Instagram and Snapchat. Twitter’s still lurking in the background but is mostly made up of Piers Morgan bickering with Lord Alan Sugar and Donald Trump putting the fear of God in us all that he’s going to start the war to end the world.

Now my generation spend most of their time on Instagram. An app that started out as a photo sharing site, with the same elements as Twitter with followers and an element of Facebook with likes and comments.

My next topic on social media will be about Instagram in particular and how much of a break I need from it as it does nothing but make me feel absolutely terrible about myself. One glance on the Explore page and I feel immediately guilty for every last slice of pizza that has ever crossed my mouth. But another topic I want to get into on Instagram is, how much of what we see is actually real??

But with Instagram and Facebook, we used to post after an event. Not that often but often enough, God forbid you double-posted. Now they have introduced Facebook and Instagram Live, meaning whatever you are doing at any given time, you can share with your followers in real-time.

Even Insta-stories, Snapchat stories and Facebook stories are a little out of hand. Every minor detail of our day, we are sharing with the world.

Go out for breakfast? Share a picture, with the location. Bored at work? Post a selfie with your office in the background. On the commute home? Post a picture of your feet, telling us about how annoyed you are that your train is delayed. At the gym? Tell your followers how heavy you can lift. Doing uni-work and procrastinating? Let everyone know about that single figure word count in the corner of your screen.

But the burning question is: Do we really need to know??

Why is it that we feel the need to share everything significant that happens to us during our daily day. Someone bring treats into the office? Oh, let me put that on my Instagram story before anyone touches any. Does anyone really care that there are doughnuts in your office?? Do they?!

I may be ranting about this, but I’m probably one of the biggest culprits of them all. I’ve found myself thinking a lot more recently, ‘Will anyone actually care?’ each time I go to take a photo of my poached eggs on avocado toast, and then post it anyway.

But why do we do this? Why do we feel the need to showcase our day? Is it to make ourselves feel better? Make ourselves look like we’re not boring? Make other people jealous? Why can’t I go about my day without thinking ‘I need to show my followers I’m out and about and doing something of significance, maybe they’ll think I’m interesting’ – because the truth is, no one actually cares what you’re up to, unless you’re Kim Kardashian.

Ok, I’ll stop

Will I stop? Most likely not. I like Instagram stories too much. Plus some of the things I get up to in London can be quite interesting. However, am I going to post pictures of my Starbucks? Not anymore. Pictures of gym equipment to show I’m there? Nope, because I’m there to train for myself, not to show the world that I’m not being lazy for five minutes.

I’m going on a little bit of a social media detox from next week onwards. You’ll see a lot less of me as I’ve been posting way too much recently, and I don’t know if any of you are sick of my Instagram stories yet, but even I start to think ‘Here she goes again’. So I’m taking a bit of a break.

I know I’ll constantly be thinking ‘Everyone thinks I’m being a hermit, they’re going to forget I exist, they’re going to think I’m having a crappy time in London, they’re going to think I’m doing nothing with my life etc.’ I know it sounds a little bit extreme, but honestly, these are thoughts that will be going through my head.

This is exactly the reason I need to take a break. I don’t need to live my life through social media or for anyone else’s viewing pleasure.

I need to live life away from my phone screen and remember that I have one outside of social media.

Well I’m going to try anyway. Although, I do love a good eggs on avocado brunch picture.

2 Comments

  1. April 19, 2018 / 10:32 am

    I’ve worked out why I enjoy your writing so much. You write like an innocent full of wide-eyed wonder at the world. Yet in truth you’re an experienced hand (eight years on Twitter, 59,000 tweets) – and wise beyond your years. (Most student bloggers write in ignorance, but dress it up as experience).

  2. orlaghclaire
    Author
    April 27, 2018 / 6:39 pm

    Thank you, Richard. Most things amaze me and once I start writing I think of more and more topics I want to cover around that area. I have to be very conscious that I’m not going off on too much of a tangent or typing up an essay. No one would stick around for that.

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