Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter. The social media platforms we check daily and blame for sucking us into a world of self-doubt and constant comparison. The form of online sharing that has transformed the communication system of the past decade has made access to private information as easy as never before. This private information is voluntarily shared, especially by celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen or the Kardashians. Their audiences thrive on the content these celebrities offer: it can be as simple as a morning workout or as controversial as the details of their toddlers’ lives. Naturally, one has to ask whether a line needs to be drawn between simple social media usage and oversharing.
However, it is challenging to differentiate between an appealing picture and information the public does (or should) not really care about. In a time when it is easier to put up a picture on Instagram than to call someone back and have a real chat, it is only justified that online platforms are questioned.
Let’s dial back for a second and look at the reasons how social media came to be what it is today. Initially, the idea was simple: with the help of platforms like Facebook, close friends and family who were not part of our daily lives could stay easily up to date. However, what once started on a small scale has now gotten out of hand. According to the Global Web Index statistic of 2017, 42% of the users still use social media to keep in touch with friends.
Regardless, the amount of online followers each person has gained shows that not only close friends follow one’s activities online. Therefore, personal accounts are used as tools for sharing one’s passions or raising awareness for relevant issues of our time too. Of course, they can also be used for business and money making purposes; in a way, they are the contemporary advertising pillars and flyers of our time. This does not change the fact that online, we present ourselves the way in which we want to be seen, not how others actually perceive us in reality. And by making social media our online diary, we make ourselves vulnerable to trolls and attacks.
Sometimes, a personal attack is not even necessary to shake our mental wellbeing. Self-sabotage is incredibly easy when browsing through social networks on a daily basis, and how could it not when everyone only shares their daily highlights. A lot of people who are frequently active on social media and invest a lot of their time in sharing their lives online get mixed reactions. Often, they get criticised for the act of “oversharing”. Controversial as it is, no one can really say where the line between private and public life should really lie. Some agree that celebrities, as mentioned above, should not expose their children’s lives or should show less skin online for their own sake, but who are we to judge someone else’s decisions. On the other hand, it can be argued that we are indeed entitled to judge, since everything is now publicly accessible.
It is needless to say that those ‘oversharers’ represent a growing generation of ‘influencers’ that have built a business out of people’s devotion to their content. Therefore, the line between uploading for the sake of publicity or just for the genuine joy of sharing personal achievements with a community is thin and difficult to define. No matter whether someone over shares or not, we need to remember that social media platforms offer a highlight reel of people’s lives, and do not represent reality. It is completely natural only to share the moments that make us happy. However, when we find ourselves envying someone for their seemingly perfect life, we have to remind ourselves that the real hardships will never make it to a social media platform.
Image: Stacey McNaught via flickr