Oversharing in social media

6 Sep

A shaky line in the sand

I was thinking over the weekend about oversharing in social media.

I’ve always personally said I use Twitter primarily for sharing professional or interesting articles, blogs, pictures and events that I’ve found that might be relevant to other people interested in social media and the media industry. I try and connect with other people in my industry or in similar industries that have interests that match mine.

But my ‘purist’ view of how I use this medium was broken a few weeks ago, when I received a direct message from a person I had chated with a few times which ended with “How are your various health woes?” While the person had written that in honest concern (I think), I knew as soon as I saw it that I had started to become guilty of the affliction that seems to continuously overtake people who interact in social media. That of oversharing.

Throughout my university degree, the main social network was definitely Facebook. Almost all of my social group spent hours and hours every day interacting (and oversharing) on Facebook, posting status updates about exactly how we were feeling or what we were doing at that moment, a lot of the time with the underlying knowledge that that update might be seen by a certain somebody. Who can deny that they haven’t at some point updated their status with “… is feeling so sad right now” without the express intention of it being seen by that somebody you were feeling sad about. In part it relates back to the research that was presented at the last SMCSYD, which found that generation Y are extremely image conscious and consistently update to a set group of their social peers (using social media) in order to maintain that image. Some of the research can be found here, and Tiphereth’s presentation from the evening is up on her blog here.

Since university, I’ve dropped off the Facebook radar, and rarely update my status. In its place came Twitter, which ostentatiously I was using for ‘professional’ updates. And for over a year I was mainly using it for sharing professional/industry related links, with a few personal comments thrown in to convey (I hope) a little of my personality.

But as my workload has increased, due in part to changes at work and the additional (slightly crazy) decision to start MBA studies, I’ve found that the amount of time I’ve had to devote to the professional areas of the medium has dropped, and instead all my updates are personal. It does actually take free time to be on Twitter, to keep even slightly on top of the myriad of updates and links shared, and to interact with those shared links. And time is what I’m running short of.

Mostly this is a time management issue, and one that I’m sure I’ll get better with as I become more experienced. But it does bring up some interesting questions… if all I can realistically update Twitter with at the moment is personal updates on how stressed or sick I am, do I risk alienating my followers, of whom the majority I have to assume only follow me because they are interested in the links I share? I’m interested in how other people balance out this issue between personal/professional, as I haven’t seen it discussed anywhere else.

But the next question would be, does it matter? Through Twitter and social media I’ve met some lovely people, and also had some fantastic opportunities come my way – so considering that, Twitter also is a personal medium.

I’m not sure what I was trying to say with this blog post, other than that I’m finding it hard to not overshare and tip towards too much personal information at the moment (it has become my new Facebook), and I wonder what other people think about this or how they deal with it personally.

And on a completely personal note which no one needs to read:

As I’ve already missed one class after failing to leave on time from work on my first day ‘officially’ in my new role, I’m dropping of the radar for the next two weeks until after my mid-semester exams. If I have even a hope in hell of passing, I’m going to need to become a hermit for the next two weeks. My 2nd exam (Accounting) is on the 24th of September, which also happens to be my birthday, so I’ll be having a ‘welcome back social life’ and birthday celebration that night, and will be back on Twitter/blogs/online in general shortly after.


6 Responses to “Oversharing in social media”

  1. Nathanael Boehm September 6, 2010 at 8:13 pm #

    I share a lot of my life online. I share my frustrations with work, my personal goals and ambitions, my struggles … I have a blog dedicated to my journey of leaving and recovering from a fundamentalist Christian cult.

    Why do I share so much?

    There are several reasons. First, it’s just my nature. I’m an open person. Second, I think in this day and age people need to learn to lean on each other more. As a society we’re too distant from each other. I also believe in transparency and being genuine. I don’t believe in the value of wearing masks.

    Well, that’s a lie. I do. I did that for years in the cult while I struggled to figure out who I was. So part of my openness is breaking free from the oppression of having to cover up and be ashamed of the fact I was a real person with feelings and a personality.

    And finally, why not? Will it come back to bite me in the arse? I absolutely expect it to. But the benefit of being open and sharing outweighs the downside. The friends I’ve made, the close friendships I’ve developed because I show myself for who I am rather than a shallow, paper-thin persona with a carefully crafted message.

    • tashily September 7, 2010 at 9:29 am #

      Thanks for the comment Nathanael! I agree very much with your comment about the need for us to lean on each other, as well as transparency and genuineness in social media. I think everyone’s experiences are also very unique, as you have shown with your blog and the reasons behind why you share a lot in social media. Ultimately (and this is what I think I was trying to convey in my blog) it comes down to setting your own personal preference/sharing levels, and you’ll just naturally connect more with others who have similar levels. And I loved your why not… the friendships and the people you’ve met. This is why I do love social media, because it has the ability to forge meaningful, fantastic friendships with people you otherwise wouldn’t have met. I think I should just become less self concious 🙂

  2. Ben Phillips September 7, 2010 at 7:17 pm #

    I’m patiently waiting for the headline “house robbed after owners checked in elsewhere on foursquare”

    • tashily September 8, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

      It honestly surprises me that we haven’t seen that headline yet! There’s been enough media coverage of the dangers…

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  1. Tweets that mention Oversharing in social media « Tashily -- Topsy.com - September 6, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nathanael Boehm, Tash Hanckel-Spice. Tash Hanckel-Spice said: Just blogged: Oversharing in social media – would love to hear what people think about the topic! http://bit.ly/c7uAe2 […]

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