There’s a big chance that you are a user of social media, and that you are familiar with the annoying social media sharer that posts photos of their personal life a bit too much for your liking. This is exactly what I have been thinking about for the past couple of days; why exactly does this happen? I decided to take a closer look at the idea of oversharing.
First of all, I believe that we live in a time where we have access to every bit of information, and also where we can share our knowledge with everyone around us. This isn’t a thought that I came up with by myself, it’s something that many people believe; we live in the “Digital Era”, sometimes also referred to as the “Information Age” where access to a computer is seen as normal (at least in developed and in some developing countries). But, when does the sharing and consuming of information become too much? I’ve noticed a change happening around me. Some of my peers are starting to become tired and bored with staying digitally connected all of the time and have therefore decided to take a break from it. I can understand why. It’s mentally exhausting to consume too much information. In a TED talk1, novelist Abha Dawesar talked about her experience of having no access to electronics because of hurricane Sandy while she was living in New York. The lack of electronics made her think about our need to stay connected: “By archiving everything we think that we can store it but time is not data; it cannot be stored. You and I know exactly what it means like to be truly present in the moment.” It’s interesting that Dawesar recognizes our tendency to archive loads of moments online. This leads me to think that social media is just adding to our mental exhaustion of information consumption by taking in lots of these ‘archives’.
It’s clear that we live in a world where information is abundant. But why do we feel that we have to add more information about our lives to social media? Is this what Andy Warhol meant when he said: “in the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes”? Maybe it’s human nature to let each other know what is going on. Or, maybe, like Warhol said, some of us subconsciously want some kind of fame or popularity. To flip it around, why are the people that don’t share that much still on social media? I think it’s our natural curiosity that plays a part here. Perhaps you really want to know what is going on with people that you’re not in direct contact with anymore.
What I consume in information on a day-to-day basis has an effect on me, and probably on those around us as well. Whatever it is that attracts all of us to spreading and consuming information, I for one have decided to be more mindful about all of this.
1TED talk: Abha Dawesar – “Life in the ‘digital now'”
(Header image courtesy of ted.com)