I read this article recently, in the Sydney Morning Herald* about the phenomenon of oversharing, both in the celebrity world and the private world. I have to say that I'm fascinated by the phenomenon, particularly as it relates to non-celebrities. I understand how famous people, especially young ones, can get caught up in revealing too much about themselves by the press machine and then find it hard to go back.** But I don't understand why regular people do it.
Maybe, if you grew up in the Facebook era and you might reveal too much about yourself before you thought about it. I can see that. What people think is appropriate is influenced, heavily, by their environment. Like, when I watch The Wire, I start swearing too much. And if I were a teenager nowadays and everyone else had Facebook and MySpace pages and were talking about their sex lives and personal habits on them, I might think it was okay to do that. (It's not, by the way. Friends don't let friends overshare.)
But what if you are my age? I mean, I grew up with computers, and being online, but not in the same way that teenagers now do it. I have a Facebook page (under my real name), but what I don't have is a desire to post about every little thing I'm doing or reveal intimate personal details of my life on it.*** And I have this blog, of course, and everything on it reflects my opinions and thoughts, but I don't post much about my personal life here. I don't feel the desire to expose every facet of my (totally exciting and awesome) life on the Internet.
The interesting thing is that, for some reason, people think I should. Not just me, I mean, but everybody. In the article, the author talks about her experience with this phenomenon:
At a recent dinner function, I was seated next to a stranger who told me about her divorce, abortion, gynaecological troubles, abusive childhood and teenage sexual experimentation all before the main course was served. I responded with polite interest and sympathy but cheerfully declined to reciprocate with confessions of my own. Later, I learnt that this woman had found me "uptight" and "secretive"."Uptight" and "secretive." Yeah, that woman would have found me "hostile" and "rude" because there's no way I'm listening to a whole night of that. And there's no way I'm reciprocating. People who don't know me don't have a right to know about my divorce, abortion, or abusive childhood**** until I actually get to know them. That's called "making friends."
Yes, yes, blah blah blah, Jay, you recluse, what does this have to do with writing? I guess what I'm saying is that I see a lot advice to writers and aspiring writers I see a lot of advice to writers about setting up blogs as "platforms" and ways to connect with potential readers. So people who haven't thought about privacy and the eternal nature of the Internet are starting up blogs and sharing all sorts of things about themselves on them that maybe they shouldn't be. And I think people should be careful about what they put on the Internet, because it might never go away.
/end rant-public service announcement.
* Why, yes, of course I subscribe to the Sydney Morning Herald, don't you? Seriously, I found it online, probably through Jezebel.
** I remember specifically a moment a long long time ago, when Britney made the announcement that she was still a virgin. Of course, she didn't mean to make an "announcement" about it; she just said it in an interview, and it got reprinted and talked about everywhere and then it became this big deal Britney Virgin Watch, and all I could think of was, "oh my God," because seriously, no one needs to know that. And it's only gotten worse, for Britney and for a bunch of other celebrities as well.
***True Fact About Jay: Most of my status updates on Facebook are in the form of song lyrics. They accurately reflect my status or mood, but when you have to post through song lyrics it's just not as easy to get carried away and say things that you shouldn't. But a friend of mine recently told me that the message conveyed by my song lyric updates is "don't bother me." It's like the best of both worlds--I'm online, but no one wants to bother me. :)
****Assuming I had any one of those things, which...I'm not going to tell you. :)