Oversharing on Facebook

I saw that someone already posted a blogpost about the “oversharer,” but my interpretation of an oversharer is quite different so I thought that it was okay for me to explain the way I see it and elucidate why the oversharer is my biggest social media pet peeve.

My version of the oversharer is exclusive to Facebook and involves the person who posts statuses that are too intimate for social media, in my opinion.  These statuses come in a variety of forms and can include religious views, political opinions, or personal thoughts about love, relationships, or friendship.

One particular form of the oversharer that especially bothers me is the girl who complains about not having a boyfriend or believes that the entire male gender “sucks.”

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Screenshots taken by Aimee Stern on September 13, 2013

Though in his video “An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube” Michael Wesch explains that social media platforms can empower users and allow them to express themselves in whichever ways they see fit, posting frequent, overly dramatic opinions to which no one knows how to respond seems pointless to me.  For the most part, when people post statuses about feeling like they have no friends or hate their so-called friends, people do not know how to reply and just scroll right past them.

Furthermore, another way people tend to overshare is when they express political views in an overly aggressive way, putting forth the demeanor that they know best and their opinion is the only correct one.  This rubs me the wrong way because I believe that everyone is entitled to his or her own political viewpoint and nobody should put unnecessary pressure upon anyone else to share their preferences or positions on political issues.

The following is a Facebook status that I feel exemplifies this sort of oversharing:

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Screenshot taken by Aimee Stern on September 13, 2013

Though Wesch might argue that this person is being authentic, that is, posting their thoughts and opinions in an unfiltered and unapologetic manner, I feel that it is abrasive and makes people uncomfortable if they possess a different viewpoint.  In addition, I feel that some people hide behind their Facebook statuses and might in fact not speak in such an assertive and strong-minded way in the offline world.

Lastly, oversharing emotions about friendships or extremely broad feelings about aspects of the world on a social media site such as Facebook seems counterproductive (to me).

Here is an example of this:

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Screenshot taken by Aimee Stern on September 13, 2013

I believe that this sort of posting demonstrates a lack of authenticity.  It shows that an individual is unwilling to face a problem head-on and unwilling to speak to the person or persons who is making them unhappy.  Furthermore, as Nancy Baym explains in her book Personal Connections in the Digital Age, because social media has a much larger reach than just speaking to a person one-on-one, sharing feelings in this way creates confusion and can also make people feel that they are at fault, even if they have done nothing wrong.  The replicability of social media websites such as Facebook also makes me very cautious to post overly personal status updates.  When people share their viewpoints or extremely personal thoughts on Facebook statuses, the statuses could easily be saved through an individual taking a screenshot.  Though it might be a pessimistic or paranoid viewpoint, I would never want to share something that I would not want a potential employer or professional contact to be able to look at.

Lastly, I worry about the potential social cues that could be missed when people read Facebook statuses that have been posted.  If someone mentions something about being depressed, it is hard to assess whether they are joking, being sarcastic, or really mean it and need help in some way.  This idea can be further understood through Michael Wesch’s idea of context collapse, which basically means that the individual or individuals’ viewpoints and values are not known when the producer of a Facebook status shares it.  Again, this means that a status could easily be misinterpreted based on a person’s past experiences with reading other people’s updates and thus cause the consumer(s) of the status to report a problem, even if there was nothing seriously wrong to begin with.

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