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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Too Much Facebook Status?


I admit that I'm an avid Facebooker. I believe the social utility has effectively linked our community of friends together with its dependable, instantaneous access to information. When I  Facebook, I like to communicate with my friends, keep abreast of current local events, and offer assistance to those in need. I never thought I would enjoy being a member of a social networking service; however, I must admit that I am now a daily user.

But, despite my allegiance to the utility, I just don't understand one popular Facebook obsession -- the need to "show off" tons of very personal information in posts and photos. It seems to me that such copious content, often extremely private and more often exceedingly trivial, is better left to exposure for a very select number of close friends, not to the potential millions of curious eyes online.

So many people evidently enjoy posting virtually everything that happens in their lives, yet I often scratch my head and wonder if a multitude of personal status reports exhibits so much self-pride that the sender risks being judged as vain and egotistical. It is really necessary to provide one's status at every move and to flaunt every photograph one clicks?

I understand that I am 60 years old and that I inhabit a world that deems me technologically and socially impaired. It is a fair assumption to say that I am light years behind the times with my antiquated views on electronic devices and their use. I grew up in simpler days of snail-paced updates when letters, face-to-face communication, and the telephone provided a great deal of privacy. Even then, gossip traveled fast, but not as quickly as today thanks to the warp-speed delivery of social networks.

It amazes me that so many feel the urge to post indiscriminately. It seems that instant revelation of any and everything takes precedence over any modest efforts to insure security and to limit mass exposure. I think, by now, everyone is aware of the potential danger in revealing too much personal information over the net. Evidently, many just don't care enough to be throttle back. But, what about those who must "put it all" on Facebook? I'm concerned about the image of those who are driven to bare themselves like that online. Why do they do it?

Most, I'm sure, involve themselves in mega-posting because they sincerely want others to share their lives and to understand their daily updates. They have become comfortable with the ease of accessing good friends, and they merely offer the information in good faith and assume no one will misinterpret it or abuse it. Although they could private message the truly personal content, they choose to display it on "news feed" because they can accomplish this easily, and they know their small circle of friends will find their content on the feed.

Not all Facebookers post with the needs of others foremost in their minds. Other motives do exist. Some surely hope to boost their popularity with little tantalizing bits of personal information -- the flashy photos, the "good life" status. I often wonder if these people are just screaming "Look at me!" for the sake of some personal satisfaction or private gain. I think I can read between the lines of these posts, and I find them very self-serving.

Some rabid sharers continually post silly, silly things. I understand the need to be goofy, and I do this myself at times, but string after string of brainless content wears thin. No real harm is committed by those who revel in being nonsensical though I do think these people often unwittingly portray themselves as a little less funny than they think they are. In fact, some consistently paint a self-portrait of witlessness.

And, of course, some people just like to hear themselves talk (or, in this case, they like to read their own writing). Print can evoke fits of ego. Like silliness, mindlessness is probably not going to hurt others. Occasionally, I feel the need for an audience and write an egotistical status myself, but these posts are jabber that does not really interest anyone but me. I should know better. A chatterbox or a self-proclaimed authority is never taken seriously.

Sometimes a status can be injurious to the writer or to others. It is very easy to misuse and abuse the written word. Status reports written in haste can reveal super-charged emotions and character miscues. Such posts can become "I wish I wouldn't have said that" moments. Once recorded on Facebook, these comments warp speed to a wide audience. People love dirt and scandal, so anything remotely controversial will be read and remembered.

I guess the argument could be made that a social network is designed to be a place where a glut of status updates, no matter the value of their content, merely replenishes the "need to know." Many Facebookers evidently believe their dear public desires to know virtually everything about them, even their most personal information. If these people were their best friends, I might agree, but that is usually not the case with most everyone's Facebook.

I think Facebook is enabling those who feel the need to make their most private clearly public. I believe some people will find this excess troubling in the future. Pride is good as long as egotistical nature is under control. I love to Facebook, but I try not to become too loose with personal information or too wordy with fluffy status posts. And, I know the bottom line today -- this blog entry further solidifies my standing as a crusty old geezer who just "doesn't get it."

  
Postscript

Here are a few of the things I have seen on Facebook that I just don't understand. Doing them does not make a person a faulty Facebooker, but doing them too much grates on my nerves.

1. Posting inspirational wisdom or enlightening quotes.

"That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger." -Nietzche

A pertinent one on occasion is good; too many is annoying. How about making up a few of your own "words of wisdom" or relating the knowledge you seek to impart in original words? Overused quotes strike few sparks.

2. Being extremely vague while seeking honest understanding.

"I'm so sick of speaking words that no one understands."

What? I'd like to reply and offer suggestions for improvement, but I just don't know what is going on. Do you think you could possible make the statement concrete? People sometimes expect friends to read their minds or to remember all information they deem important.

3. Stirring up the troops.

“Don’t you just hate it when certain ‘best friends’ turn out to be your worst enemies?”

Everyone occasionally whines and moans, but too much griping detracts from character. Do you really think the object of your aggression is going to read what you’ve written, sensibly digest and modify their behavior accordingly? People find that complaining comes very easily.

4. Saying nothing all the time.

"Getting ready to step into the shower."

Does anyone really need a minute-by-minute account of all your daily actions and locations? Can anyone say, "Too much information"? Maybe conserving a little energy and not posting is best.

5. Moaning a "boredom statement."

"I'm so bored."  

Saying "I'm tired, bored, sleepy, awake or excited" just looks like you’re trying to remind people you’re still alive. Maybe some say this to beg for some shared time.

6. Posting ALL the photos.

You may be able to consider quality and select the "perfect pics" for sharing with all friends instead of putting your photo album online. Some photos are so personal that they may present you with problems you never expected. And remember, everyone loves family content but even some of these photos may be seen by those who misuse them.

7. Wishing you were here.

"Oahu is just a paradise. Never want to leave."

This is just my own personal gripe because I don't have the funds to take the fabulous vacations I see captured in comments and photos on Facebook. Now, I'm really being sarcastic, but I am so jealous. I think Facebookers should be required to send souvenirs to all their Facebook friends if they post dozens of these lovely photos online. Forgive me. I'm only kidding. These are the comments of a bitter, aging, old fart.


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