Parenting, Relationships, What's On Our Mind

What’s classed as over sharing?

Pia Careedy by Pia Careedy
March 4th, 2013

A turd appeared in my facebook newsfeed this week. A photo of a turd on some leaves, next to a tree. With an Instagram filter applied. A lo-fi turd, if you will. Not sure if this makes it better or worse. It was taken on a buck’s weekend camping trip, by the person who manufactured it.

You could ask why I’m friends with this person. But you know you’ve got at least one depraved nitwit in your list of contacts who finds human poo hilarious, and would totally post the same thing.

A better question: is there anything we don’t share on Facebook?

The problem with Facebook is that no one told us what to do with it. ‘Social networking’, sure. But at the time, in 2008, that was just pop culture chatter we didn’t quite understand, like ‘blogosphere’ and ‘Miley Cyrus’. We didn’t know what it actually meant, or what it would mean for our largely offline lives. It’s like we were given a big box of electrical scraps to play with, and an all too brief safety chat. ‘These cords here are live, ok? So if you touch that blue thing next to the silvery thing ….ah, you know what? You’ll figure it out! Have fun kids!’

We didn’t figure it out. We touched the blue thing. And now our womb ultrasounds are on the internet.images-1

The way we communicate personal information online, as a whole, has changed. It’s not even our fault. Facebook didn’t come with instructions about what’s cool and what’s definitely not cool to post. It gave us free reign to express our thoughts, share our hopes and inspirations. What’s on your mind, share it with the group! Disarmed by this total lack of boundaries, like a teenager without a babysitter, we did the only thing we could think of: got drunk and took pictures of tacos.

Preying on our collective sense of FOMO, Facebook accentuates our emotional need to belong to a group. We mimic the movements of others, and bond by offering a little something of ourselves. It starts innocently enough, with a bubbly ‘Check In’ at the pub with your buddies. Then, you try out a status update – something quippy about the traffic, or a reasonably safe ‘Go Pies!’. You tag a friend doing something amusing with a fake mustache. An Instagram pic of the perfect burger beside a golden beer. Before you know it, every party photo you take is assessed for Facebook-worthiness.  It’s all silly fun, with a bit of YouTube nuttiness and harmless ex-stalking thrown in.

Then someone you know posts something…strange. A little more serious, a little more personal. Family health updates, news about their employer, or a photo of the house they just bought. With enough detail that you could actually look it up on and see what they paid, if you were so inclined. Engagement rings suddenly pop up over Christmas. Once one person does it, others seem to follow.

imagesUltrasound pictures are the most baffling. Why are women posting these to announce a pregnancy? Firstly, that’s your fetus. Your delicate fetus growing under seven layers of muscle and fat and blood and tissue inside your body. Secondly, give the kid some privacy. Still a zygote and already naked in public? That’s not proud parenting, that’s pimping. Thirdly: your twelve week scan looks the same as all the others, and anyone who comments about your unborn baby having your nose is humouring you.

WHY are we now mass-sharing these private, intensely personal pictures and moments as standard procedure?

Surely, there are some things too personal to share beyond your immediate family, or even your immediate bathroom door. But consider what you’ve seen in your newsfeed in the last six months. The towel has definitely slipped down a few revealing inches, and it’s not Facebook asking us to provide this information. We’re voluntarily handing over our entire lives, unfiltered, for the public to examine and pick apart.

But maybe we like things this way. Transparent, nothing to hide, everything out on the table and wiped onto a gum leaf. As the great saying goes: In the sweetness of friendship, let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things, the heart finds its morning deuce, and is refreshed.

Whats the most ‘over sharing’ you have seen on social media?