While documenting your life – yes, we have a good trail of your movements throughout the day, plus your mood – it may often be better to just experience life as it happens.
Just Live It
I read a great article about a family having a totally perfect moment. I think it was a lazy Sunday morning in bed with all of the family plus the cat curled up at the foot of the bed, reading the papers and relaxing together. Yet one of the adults had an urge to tweet about it instead of just enjoying their time together. They knew it was wrong to think like that and that they should just accept how great the morning was as no-one was arguing but they also recognised they had a strong desire to share what was happening and to tell everyone, even to show everyone with a quick snap.
Do you need to tell the online world your every move? Often we see 'friends' carry on with updates as if no-one is listening but it seems they are secretly hoping someone is there and that they feel the same.
It can be fun to live vicariously through others but Do you suffer from FOMO? reminded us that we are so connected with one another that we can’t just be alone anymore.
Oversharing can lose you friends and many people admit to hiding 'friends' on Facebook who post updates so often they dominate their news feed. The problem may actually not be oversharing but more sharing universally as while some are interested, others are not. For example, foodies love to share photos of their dinner and non-foodies can't see the appeal.
When you have something to say, think about the best forum for that comment. Is it online or offline? Often the better answer would be to share with real friends privately, face-to-face if possible. If you feel the need to share online, don’t type something you wouldn’t say offline. Being online doesn’t make you anonymous.
Automated updates going to multiple social networks are also something to modify as your LinkedIn audience is not the same as your Facebook friends or twitter followers. Do you really want your tweets about a drunken night with friends appearing on your professional profile on LinkedIn automatically? Foursquare wants you to post your location to other networks and Spotify wants you to tell everyone what you're listening to right now but think about which audiences really should have that information. You should be constantly tweaking who to share with and what and on which platforms.
Won't Talk About It But Will Blog
Many won't talk about a sensitive subject when you meet them yet a blog post will be written later by them revealing their most private thoughts. Why is it easier to tell 'faceless' strangers online?
Telling strangers on your social networks that you're out of the house for a few days, or have got tipsy and are at a certain bar isn't smart. There's some good internet security advice here and an article on time.com about 'Please Rob Me' – a simple site, now thankfully disabled, that highlighted how easy it was with location-based software and cross social media sharing to show anyone who cared to check that you were not home.
weknowwhatyouredoing.com has a constant search going on through Facebook to see who is complaining about their boss, who's hungover, who's taking drugs and who is publishing their new phone number online. The site's developers do actually say that Facebook's privacy settings are good, it's just that most people simply don't understand the risks of sharing everything. To make sure your status updates don't appear on the site ensure you do not have your Privacy Controls set to 'Public'.
This article points out that "Many don’t think about their audience. This idea that our social networks are just our closest friends is an illusion."
These tips about oversharing and teen safety online come from a ridiculously savvy 15 year old. This kid actually teaches the grownups and it looks like he is one to watch for the future.
The best advice to take away from all of this is that as well as limiting who can see what you post we also need to start limiting what we post to begin with.
(Images: rachjose | ppdigital | kumarnm via MorgueFile.com)