Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The "Am I Over-Sharing" Conversation

So, a few things. I haven't written much lately, and there are a few reasons for that.

First is our upcoming trip to Israel in less than two weeks. Currently I'm in the "OH SHIT" stage of the pre-trip emotional roller coaster, where I wake up at 2 am every night to write down something I'm terrified I'll forget to pack ("BUG SPRAY") and I spend all day convincing myself that I don't love Jesus enough to walk where He walked; you know, just your average pre-travel psychosis.

Then there are the freelance assigments I've received this month, on top of my usual nightly writing, and I'm super grateful for that but deadlines are just so suffocating.

Then there is my general waffling about privacy and blogging and what they mean to me and which one I should value more and why I'm wrong after I make that choice.

I've been giving a lot of thought to my online presence and how much of one I want to have. Last week I found this delicious blog called "Wait by Why" and they did a brilliant tongue-in-cheek breakdown of why everyone becomes their worst selves on Facebook, and I gave myself a headache with how furiously I was nodding in agreement.

I look at Facebook every day, but it drives me absolutely bonkers. And every time I consider updating my "status" I find myself in a sweat-inducing existential crisis about why anyone else would or should care about my weekend plans and whether I'm adding or detracting from the goodness in the world and you know, this and that. And every time I read all of YOU people's updates, I find myself getting really disproportionately annoyed. You just can't possibly imagine how little I care about your trip to the nail salon, and I want you to sit there and listen to how little I care, and then I want you to give me back the 5 seconds it took me to read about it!

There is also the case of people who over-like, or over-engage, or over-whatever themselves online. There is an etiquette to social media, which I don't think is unreasonable to say, and some people simply do not follow it. A month or so ago I realized that every. single. time. I posted something on Facebook or Instagram, it was truthfully less than 10 minutes before this same person would either "like" it or comment on it. I don't know this person particularly well, though we are acquaintances. He is a married dude around my age. And so all of that added to the just general weirdness I felt, I suppose.

After a while I decided to block him, and I felt so self-righteous in doing it; convincing myself that this is what Blake Lively must feel like walking down the street and all that. (Adoring fans) But then I had to face facts, that I am the one posting pictures about personal and private moments and "status updates" and what have you - how can I fault someone for engaging with that?

I follow the Eisley girls on Instagram and they are adorable and fun and I love their updates, but it's mostly baby pictures and baby feet and hands and snot and what-have-you - and oh my word, the comments! The other day I saw a photo of one of the babies under which a commenter, who admitted to being a fan and so presumably did not know the girls in person, had written "I love your daughter so much I feel physical pain when I look at her - I can't imagine how YOU feel!" I felt so gross after that that I almost got out of the line at Chipotle. (I didn't though, obvs. Barbacoa.) This stuff is creepy as hell, but are the posters inviting it? Or at least enabling it?

Ultimately I decided that blocking the above referenced dude was still the right thing to do, and I still believe there is an etiquette to the whole thing, (it started to feel like a dude with a crush trying to get my attention, and that is yuck) but it did get my wheels turning about exactly what I want out of being on social media, and I'm not sure I like my honest-to-goodness answers, which are essentially:

1. To look at people I'm jealous of so that I can try to be more like them
2. To try to make other people jealous of me

And honestly, that's about it, and that's ugly.

Now Twitter is a bit different - I follow mostly comedians and reporters, and I get news and laughs from that and that's ok with me. But Facebook and Instagram... I just don't know. I do like staying in touch with friends but most friends are using it less and less if my observations are correct, and I talk to my closest friends via text and email much more than through social media anyway. Blogging is different, I assure you, but I am also giving some thought to how personal I want to be here. We can write about ideas without me having to tell you about my medical history and whether my parents loved me enough as a child, yes? (They did)

What do you think?

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