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Social media: personal or impersonal?

Long gone are the days of writing letters to our nearest and dearest to tell them about our days and any news we have, good or bad. Instead we have Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media that we use to share – or overshare – our news and thoughts. Social media makes the process of sharing effortless, just by pressing a few keys and the click of a button we’ve saved ourselves a trip to the post-box and the cost of stamps. However, are we falling into the trap of sharing a little too much information? Many of us appear to have taken a leaf out of Amanda Bynes book, who published her recent mental breakdown on Twitter not so long ago claiming her father had abused her and planted a micro-chip in her brain! A bit of an extreme example, but it puts the whole oversharing thing into perspective. I have a number of friends that air their dirty laundry all over Facebook and Twitter, clearly getting caught up in the heat of the moment. They seem to forget that tweeting isn’t the same as writing a diary as everyone can see. Although an argument with your housemate is of great importance to you, some things are better left within the walls of your own home. Not everyone needs to know that they’ve left the tap running. It doesn’t just stop at the statuses: on numerous occasions I’ve seen photos uploaded that really shouldn’t have been. The ‘after-sex selfie’ was a craze that recently swept the internet – something that I never really understood. OK, great, you and your partner/acquaintance have just engaged in sexual intercourse and that’s wonderful, more so for you than me, but posting a photo of the two of you after isn’t. Sweaty, semi-naked and grinning from ear to ear after your recent climax, or anti-climax, is not something we all need to see. What happened to privacy in relationships?

It seems everyone needs to know each other’s business, with celebrity couples such as Mark Wright and Michelle Keegan sharing seminaked photos snuggled up in bed, pre or postcoitus. Cringe. It is incredibly easy to upload our thoughts onto the web, meaning many fall into the trap of oversharing. Do I really need to know you’re in chronic pain because you’re menstruating?

No, I don’t – and neither do the rest of your 300 followers. Social media sites just seem to be overwhelmed with statuses and tweets containing insignificant information that is better left unsaid. I can deal with the occasional pointless tweet as we all fall into that trap sometimes, but it’s when you’re provided with a running commentary of someone’s life, with a tweet being posted every half hour. Yes, I follow you but I don’t need to know you’ve made a cup of tea or that you’ve used vanilla body wash today, if I did I’d ask. As an extremely nosey individual one of the positives of people posting personal information online is that I can be nosey without even having to try. I know I’m not the only one, we all do it. The indirect tweet that isn’t so indirect is a personal favourite of mine. Posting that you’re ‘so happy and loving life’ accompanied by millions of photos from all the amazing single nights out you’ve had really isn’t fooling your ex, or anyone. This is usually accompanied by a tweet a few days later consisting of song lyrics, which initially appear to be deep and meaningful, but are probably just something Taylor Swift whipped up. Like a relationship, a break-up should be kept between those involved as it doesn’t make it any easier, and I’m speaking from experience, so trust me: staying silent is much more dignified. Many fans were left heartbroken after hearing the lovely Benedict Cumberbatch got engaged recently. However, instead of the news being posted online it was published in a newspaper, a more traditional approach. The reason for this is that Benedict sees the sharing of such news on social media as ‘impersonal’, and I’m with him on this one.

The announcement of proposals, engagements and births should be shared with those closest to you first. Reading this sort of news off of a phone or computer screen separates us from reality. It slips in amongst the other statuses and tweets on our news feed, with people not doing much more than ‘liking’ it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the same effect as gathering your nearest and dearest, or writing them a letter as it lacks a personal touch. So next time, stop and think before you share instead of posting something you’ll soon regret.

25/11/2014

About Author

gemmacarter Partial to a bit of musical theatre, nothing would make Gemma happier than people spontaneously bursting into song. As a third year English Literature student, you’re most likely to find her in the Hive drinking hot chocolate pretending it’s tea or coffee - because that’s what grown ups drink!



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