Here is a post by Madeleine E. Robins on Book View Cafe: Life Lived Out Loud
Life is lived very publicly these days. For writers, who are told that Establishing a Media Presence is a requirement, it can be just another writing exercise. But when even middle schoolers worry about crafting an online persona*, the world has moved well past my mother’s adjuration not to tell Other People the family’s concerns. We’re all awfully comfortable with taking up, not just our own space, but the space of the people around me. I tend to lower my voice if I’m talking on a cell phone in public–both for the sake of my own privacy and so as not to thrust my business on the people sitting nearby. Not so the woman two seats away from me on BART who was chatting animatedly with someone about her visit to the gynecologist.
I am a private person by nature, I think; or at least I certainly am in comparison with the sort of person who would chatter away about personal topics in a public place. Seriously, I can’t even. But I also don’t worry a lot about “crafting a public persona.” It just feels natural to me to focus online on books and writing and puppies and flowers and funny cat videos and so on, and leave virtually all politics (say) strictly alone. But a lot of this is, I think, based on what I prefer other people to share, too. I will just never understand the urge to treat the entire world as a fitting venue for personal concerns.
But! I also have a more serious concern about social media and oversharing. Sometimes when scrolling through Twitter or Facebook I can’t help but wonder whether a) social media encourages a deleterious focus on the self and on one’s personal feelings; and b) this focus then tends to encourage rather than relieve feelings of anxiety, depression, and so forth.
I wonder whether some people who are heavily into social media don’t try to reach out for social support to people they aren’t genuinely connected to; people who can’t provide support in 140 characters; people who are not, in truth, close enough to be asked to provide support at all.
Granted, I’m not inclined to completely give up either Twitter or Facebook. I like both, though I’m enjoying Facebook more now that I have a phone that can actually reliably get to Facebook. I very much appreciate the glimpses into the lives of various relatives (goodness, Meagan must be SO ready to have that baby; I have never seen anyone more pregnant in my life!) and all kinds of pictures and links.
I just wonder whether it might not be better to recover, as a society, a sense of the difference between personal and public and between friends and acquaintances. To recover, let us say, a general feeling that reticence can be a positive virtue rather than a synonym for repression.
Though I won’t be holding my breath to see that kind of trend.