Do we share too much on social media?

Do we overshare on social media? Barbara Scully and Arlene Harris look at both sides of the argument. Have your say by taking our poll at the end of the article.

YES

Do we really need to post and boast about everything in our mundane day? The urge to record is taking the spontaneity out of life, argues Arlene Harris

Arlene Harris

What is it with people nowadays? Everyone seems perpetually compelled to share every detail of their (often mind-numbingly boring) lives with the world.

Do you really need to tell your Facebook ‘friends’ that you are having a wonderfully romantic anniversary dinner with your other half — if it is that fantastic, why the Hell are you wasting time posting (read boasting) a message to your timeline?

Perhaps it is a generational thing, but I cannot figure out why everyone feels the urge to reveal themselves in this manner. It seems that no-one can go for a drink, buy a pair of shoes or even make a decision about what to have for dinner without putting it ‘out there’ for everyone one to comment.

The celebrity world has obviously taken this obsession to the extreme with everyone from Essex to Hollywood pouting in front of a mirror in their scanties as they reveal their ‘gym- honed’ bodies and slam ‘jealous’ social media users for ‘body shaming’ if anyone dares to say anything negative about their extraordinary need for attention.

Kim Kardashian, the queen of naked selfies, got her knickers in a twist (well she would have if she had been wearing any) when Bette Midler made a quip declaring that an internal camera shot would be the only way of showing a part of the reality star we hadn’t seen before.

I’m firmly with Midler on this one as I genuinely cannot understand what propels someone to put an image like this of themselves online for the world to see.

And it’s not just the KK’s of the world who are guilty of this either as our own teenagers post slightly less revealing versions on social media every day. Complete with trout pouts, the young generation is not too far behind with their need for approval as they prepare for a night at the local disco (or more worryingly an afternoon in town).

There was a time when the finger of blame was always pointing at teenagers but mature adults can be just as guilty as their younger counterparts when it comes to oversharing – how many people do you know who litter their Facebook pages with the minutiae of their children’s lives?

Yes, it’s lovely to mark the passage of time with images of their first step and first day at school or even regular updates on their birthday — but some parents can’t help taking this to the extreme and invite the world to marvel at their child’s brilliance several times a day — how can they not see that this is both irritating and slightly worrying — do they not have better things to be doing?

And herein lies the problem; instead of living their lives, millions of people are creating virtual lives through social media. You may think that the regular posting of ‘spontaneous’ family shots depicted in artistic black and white, the announcement that you are poised to kiss your ‘amazing’ new girlfriend or the gushing greeting to your one-year-old is sending a message to the world that you are happy, successful and enjoying your life, but in fact all it shows is that you spending too much time on social media

.What happened to private moments between loved-ones — surely they are more meaningful than a slushy message on Twitter? And what about memories — isn’t it better to watch the concert, firework display, eclipse of the moon or sunrise over Newgrange with your eyes rather than through a lens — so the video of said event can be uploaded as soon as possible?

Life is short people, so every moment should be lived for yourself — not for others to validate your existence or even to make them jealous of your amazing lifestyle, body or career — so put down the phone and look around you, there is a whole world out there waiting to be explored.

NO

Social media is an extension of your world, so there is no reason to interact with people you wouldn’t talk to in a real-life situation. Otherwise, share away, believes Barbara Scully

Barbara Scully

Here is a profound truth from someone who spends a little too much time online (see I know I do, so therefore I don’t have a problem, right?); anyway the truth is — social media is what you make it. I have another truth — social media is optional. You don’t have to have a Facebook page or a Twitter (or Instagram or Snapchat) account. So therefore I don’t really understand why some people get so het up over other people’s behaviour online; as long as it’s not threatening or inciting violence, what’s the problem? And the problem apparently, is something called ‘over-sharing’.

Yes, I accept that some of us may over-share online. My ‘real’ friends would say I over- share all the time and always have. My life is an open book. And that right there is another profound truth — social media reflects who we are. So the world in all its quirky glory is represented online.

The problem some people have, I think, is that they accept friend requests on Facebook from all and sundry. Why would you do that? Facebook is like real life — just be friends with people you know and like. Because why would you want to know all about someone’s baby or family holiday or event if you don’t care about them? If it’s too late and your timeline is already full of randomers who are annoying you, ‘unfriend’ them; the beauty of that is that they won’t even know. And if it’s Twitter you have an issue with you can ‘mute’ them… oh but that life had a mute button.

Sharing the minutiae of our lives online has lots of benefits. I have often been drawn outside when my timeline fills with people remarking on or attempting to photograph the sunset or the moon. Equally I have on occasion been motivated to go out for a long walk when it seems that everyone is waxing lyrical about the great weather.

But best of all Twitter is way better than Google for finding stuff out in a local context. For example, my 15-year-old dropped her beloved new guitar recently. I had no idea of where to start looking for someone who might be able to repair her precious instrument. I shared this not hugely interesting problem on Twitter and got a few recommendations for a great guy who I doubt I would have ever found otherwise.

Social media is like driving. When you come across a rude and aggressive driver on the road, you don’t blame driving. All human life is represented online and some of those humans are going to annoy you. So adjust your settings and stop fretting.

That said however, there are just a couple of rules I adhere to when over-sharing online.

Photos of other people need that person’s permission (unless they are another ‘over-sharer’ in which case the concept of permission may be alien to them), information about my kids I only share on Facebook where the vast majority of my ‘friends’ are people I know and I never share my address. I should also stress that I am at the “oh I couldn’t care less what people think” stage in life. I might be more careful if I was actively seeking a job.

Oh and don’t overshare when drunk. Recipe for a major disaster that.

There is of course one person who definitely does overshare online and that’s one Ms Kim Kardashian and her constant selfies with and without clothes.

But then again Madonna was at that long before we had heard of social media or oversharing. QED


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