Friday, July 18, 2014

Social Media: How Much Is Too Much?

There have been several reports this year on the subject of too much information being shared by people on social media. It's not a new topic, by any means, but there have recently been studies done on the amount of information people are sharing on such sites. As someone who has been accused of sharing too much information on social media, I feel I'm sufficiently informed enough to make comments on this topic of conversation.

Due to my physical condition (88% of my spine is fused rendering it immovable, arachnoiditis in 4 different locations of the spinal cord, etc.,) I spend the vast majority of my daylight, awake time on the computer. I literally live my life through Facebook. Due to my limited physical interactions with people, I tend to have most of my social activity through Facebook, and I post a lot of my opinions, activities and condition on my wall. Facebook is also how I get most of my information about my friends and family. So, as a quasi-expert on social media, I'm going to state what I've learned and what I see happening to our culture and the human race due to this phenomena we call social media.

There have been a couple people who have expressed concerns that I put information on social media that could cause someone to find my physical location and break into my home. Well, okay, I guess we all could be accused of doing this at some point in time, after all thieves, robbers and just over-all bad people, may see a photo someone posts to social media and see something in the background of that image that they want and therefore they'd look up the location of the person and break into their home. However, I've taken reasonable steps to protect my home: I have an alarm system, two dogs and I am not merely a vocal supporter of the 2nd Amendment, I'm a card-carrying member of the armed & dangerous club when it comes to protecting my home. AND I'm a VERY GOOD SHOT! I also take measures to ensure that my physical address can't be located easily.

Because I do not get to get out of the house as much as I'd like to due to my physical condition, my normal avenue for human contact is via the computer which means social media for most of my friends/family. Now, that wasn't my choice. In fact, I was a late-comer to social media. Although I had created a Facebook page in 2004, I didn't begin using it until 2008 and didn't become a daily user of it for another 18 months after that. I only succumbed to Facebook because the usual method of staying in touch with people became impossible to continue using due to their lack of interest in any other means of contact other than Facebook. If I had my way, I'd still be the guy who uses social media once every few weeks rather than all day every day. Because of this, I may sometimes get complacent about the security of social media and put something on my wall or in a comment to someone's status that is a bit more personal than I would normally share. Does that make me anything less than human, though? Almost every single person I know has shared a detail or three that is more than they intended or more than someone needed to know.

My complaint about the prevalence of social media, however, is that people have become less social in person because of the overwhelming and ubiquitous technology in our lives, today. Case in point, when someone comes over to my house and they spend their entire time with me with their eyes glued to their smartphone. While they may claim they are paying attention to me, the fact that I make comments to shock them or throw them in some way and their response is "uh huh" or "okay" proves my point that they are not, in fact, paying attention to me or what I'm saying. To me, personally, this is just plain rude!

I've been known to hang up on people because of their inability to pay attention to what I'm saying due to their focus being on their computer and/or smartphone while we're supposed to be interacting over the telephone. As far as I'm concerned, if you're coming to my house, or speaking to me on the phone, either focus your attention on our conversation or focus your attention on your technology, because you cannot do both! And I feel my time is just as valuable as anyone else's, so don't waste mine by keeping me tied to the phone or trying to show you courtesy in person while you're reading your Facebook feed or sending texts to others. I won't treat you that way and I don't expect you to treat me that way.

Basically what it all boils down to is this: each and every individual has their own definition of how much is too much for social media sharing. There are many things I wouldn't dream of posting to my Facebook page, which others feel no hesitation about posting to theirs. That's perfectly fine. The only time I might say something is if it is a minor posting things. I'll either say something, in private, to that minor or to their parent/guardian. The one thing I will say is too much is when someone wants to argue/fight on social media. No one else needs to see/hear/read those types of things. Take it private via InBox or off-line entirely if you need to have a disagreement with someone. And never, ever post a reprimand or such on someone's status or comments. Take it private. That's why that option is available. Flaming someone because you disagree with something they've shared or said is just plain rude and completely inappropriate.

The rules for social media interaction are the same as all interaction has always been: treat others the way you, yourself, want to be treated. If you don't want someone blasting you in front of the whole world on social media, then don't blast anyone else in that way. Other than that, I say live and let live when it comes to social media. It can, and often is, the only way some people have to interact with others of the human race.