I was at a concert this past week for Vicci Martinez. I have to say, I wasn't sure what to expect, seeing as I don't watch shows like The Voice or American Idol, though I had to assume that if she had "won" on The Voice, she was probably pretty good. And she was great! I even bought her album (on iTunes) since the concert didn't cost me anything. Value for Value 🙂
But this isn't about that concert, but what I saw at the concert. Everyone and their brother had their phones out and was posting pictures to Facebook, as was I.
After the concert was over, I began to ask myself: why are so many people compelled to share what they are doing on Facebook or whatever social network? Not just unusual events like concerts, but every little thing?
If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, you'll realize that I don't post to these services every day. Some days I am very active, other times I will go days between postings. On my blogs, the norm seems to be about a post a month. Clearly I don't have an oversharing problem—at least most of the time.
Why do I choose to share when? My situation is, perhaps, more complex than most since I also live at least parts of my life in semi-public due to the social media-type work I sometimes do for Check Point Software. I share things because they are work-related. I share things (particularly location) to signal to others. I occasionally experiment with new social media applications, so that will mean some "extra" sharing just to test. I share things that are important to me in some way. I share things that are funny.
There's stuff that happens in my personal life that I don't share at all. I might share some family-related things with a select few on Facebook, but even that's rare.
Fundamentally, the sharing is about somehow feeling "connected" to someone else. Whether it is something good or bad, we can find someone who agrees—or not—and, sometimes, engage us back. Therein is the connection, but some times, it is lacking in substance.
Some of the items being shared, though, seem to signal something: "Look at my exciting life. Aren't I having a good time?" Sometimes, the signaling isn't for others, though, it's an attempt to convince yourself your life is exciting. This seems quite delusional on some level.
In any case, this revelation about what we share through these social networks with whom and why is causing me to reevaluate how I interact on social networks. Especially when you consider the inherent risks of putting that data onto the Internet where Google, Facebook, and who-knows-what company can "use" that data to "better serve" me.