In Defence of Oversharing Online
How do you maintain your privacy when your job is to overshare online?
As someone whose job it is to essentially live their life out online, I feel quite well versed in the ups and downs of sharing yourself on social media. It’s a confusing business, and in all honesty, finding the right balance has come from learning from my mistakes.
In this day and age, sharing your life online is no longer just for household names and those who rose to fame. Linda down the road and your best friends from school are having public arguments on your Facebook timeline, and then there are the overly edited Instagram selfies from people you once knew, with the captions sharing details of their lives. It’s no longer a world of privacy and unknowns; we have access to all the information we could ever desire online, and almost everything we could ever need to know about our peers.
We have shifted from casually engaging in social media to playing out our lives on it. As an influencer, I feel like I am in a strange limbo category. The way I use social media is hardly normal, but sometimes I find it difficult to divulge more personal information due to the fact that I feel it leaves me vulnerable to attack, and sometimes that’s just not what you fancy at 6pm on a Wednesday. It’s a bit like standing in the middle of a football stadium and yelling to everyone about my personal life – a little intimidating.
I’ll admit that living my life online is still a little strange, but I think we are in an age where, in one way or another, we’re all in the same boat. I was reading back on an article I wrote a few years ago about how I would censor some parts of my life, tailoring the person I was online to my audience. I’ve pretty much abandoned that idea because of how draining I found it, but I also started to feel like it didn’t matter anymore. Almost everyone has an Instagram, Facebook or Twitter account, and everyone is sharing everything and anything.
In a world where everyone seems to share everything already, can you go too far?
It’s totally subjective of course; what is “too much” is a personal choice. If people want to share something that others may deem too much then that’s their choice and we have to respect that. Whether we like it or not, sharing our lives online has become normal. I think the choice has been and will always be what you personally are comfortable with or want to show. But really, I think by simply downloading social media in any form you are admitting to yourself that you want to keep tabs on others, and in turn, let people keep tabs on you.
This is where what I like to call our “show reel” comes in: a collection of our best bits. No matter how “real” we try to be online, there is always an ultimate decision made as to what we are putting out there. I understand it, we want to make sure we don’t put anything online that isn’t going to look good. But with people growing up on social media nowadays, the risk lies in us comparing our whole lives to somebody else’s curated best bits. We see the perfect relationships and the perfect life and sometimes we can’t help but feel a little inadequate.
My fear is that we increasingly spend our time comparing our everyday lives, with all their ups and downs, to everyone else’s best bits.
There are also the serial oversharers, and we all know them. This is where the mute button comes in EXTREMELY handy, so don’t be afraid to use it. But I think the real issue lies in how it affects us subconsciously, especially younger generations growing up in an age where everything, whether you like it or not, seems like a competition for who has the most of x, or who has the most of y. When I was 12, I wanted a pair of Converse, not a pair of Alexander Mcqueen trainers, but that’s just how life evolves. I fear social media competition, not only in those whose job it is to be online, but for those who use it as part of their everyday life.
You have to take the good with the bad. In putting anything online you have to be prepared for others to have their own opinions, or something bad to say. Some people will like it, and others may not. Sadly, we do live in a world of keyboard warriors and no matter how hard you may try they’ll find you at some point.
I started my online endeavour between the ages 14 and 15 (meaning every relationship I’ve had has been played out online, but that’s another story) but as I started gaining a following, someone made an Instagram account specifically to repost every single one of my images with a caption telling me to kill myself. It was horrific, but far too often that’s just the way it goes on social media.
In my opinion, it all boils down to finding your own balance of what makes you feel free and in control without being too vulnerable. I am all for the movement into being more open and real about our day-to-day struggles as I believe it opens the floor to a more honest conversation with each other and better education of those around us. So, in that sense, I don’t think we could overshare at all – sharing our experiences with people who need to hear and listen and relate themselves is the best thing to overshare in my eyes.
If something is sacred to you, keep it for yourself. Privacy is a valued currency in today’s world and you don’t want to spend it all at once. Save some away for a rainy day, and keep that which you hold dear private for yourself and those you trust.