random,  social media

Generation “overshare”

Social media – I can’t stand it and I almost can’t live without it.

It’s tied to everything now and it’s HUGE source for news for people. In a survey conducted in 2016, approximately 50% of 18-49 year-olds get their news online. Now, a lot of times it’s not the most credible news, but the majority of the breaking news will hit there first. At least people are being kept up to date with breaking news (even if it is just headlines). But beyond that, social media has really become a source of sharing your life and sometimes…oversharing.

In a recent dinner conversation I was having with a friend, we were discussing the difference in generations and what they share on the platforms. Our generation was introduced to the beginnings of it (in the days before status updates! Can you imagine not being able to tell the world what you think or what you are doing??) We were there when it was still “The Facebook” and you had to have a college email to sign up. There was no Instagram, no SnapChat and certainly no option to provide stories or stream live. We have watched it progress (although, I’m not sure progress is the best adjective) to the life-consuming medium it is now.

It went from a networking site to a spot where you can share your opinion on everything from someone’s parking abilities to the political climate of our country.

Before you start raising an eyebrow in criticism at me, I’m aware that I’m an avid user. I have accounts on several of the platforms (*cough cough* you’re reading one now). And I admit that I find some benefits to it; living away from friends and family now, it gives me a chance to stay in the loop and see photos and vice versa. Heck, I even found my biological father on social media (when Oprah failed me).

But…there are so.many.issues with it too.

Oversharing is the one I want to write about today. I’m not even talking about the way people use it as a diary or a way to track their every day activities (which is annoying – for instance, a few weeks ago I attended a concert next to a guy that live streamed the entire thing! He was literally watching the concert through his phone screen.). Instead, I’m referring to one specific issue, and it is genuinely alarming because there are plenty of safety concerns with it. It’s the sharing of certain types of photos/selfies.

It’s summer right now, and days at the pool or lake are common. I’m guilty of sharing the snap of the pool (I do try to hide my feet because feet are ugly – no one wants to see my feet in front of a pool) but I draw the line at bathing suit photos. And I’m just going to say it: you should too.

I know it’s a great memory that you want to capture. Go ahead and snap the photo of you and your girls on the lake or at the pool; print it and put it in a frame in your room. NOT ON A WORLDWIDE BILLBOARD. Would you post a photo of yourself in your underwear and post it online? Because it’s basically the same; the coverage is the same.

You all…besides the obvious modesty aspect – it’s SO unsafe. Anyone can see the photo, keep it, print it, do whatever to it. Even if you are really, really, really, really up-to-date with privacy settings, you can’t stop a screenshot.

Don’t be fooled by Catfish, it’s really easy to find someone if you wanted to. And it’s a lot easier for someone to find you than you think. I am an online dater and it’s easy for me to find someone with just a few pieces of information. I have his first name and location, and within a few clicks – there he is. Call me a creeper, that’s fine because you need to understand that’s exactly what someone could be doing to you. And if you are an avid sharer, you never know what clues you are giving to your identity and location: sports jerseys, organizations, workplace, job title, vacation spots, etc. I mean, even sharing where I go to church could be a clue to let some creeper know where to find me every Sunday.

Any one of these could be a clue. I know it sounds a little “doom and gloom” and scary and I hope it does scare you a bit. Think about it before you are posting a photo of yourself in just barely-there clothing.

Parents, I am not going to pretend to understand what it’s like to have a part of you in the world or to try to teach another human the ways of the world but I want to address phones and social media.  I know this may ruffle feathers. It’s not meant to criticize anyone but maybe provoke a thought.

Would you give your child a weapon, like a gun, to carry every day if they didn’t know how to use it responsibly?

Doubtful, right? Well, if you’re not constantly reminding your children of what that phone is capable of, you’re giving them a weapon that could potentially put themselves (or friends) in a very dangerous position. They need to understand the power and potential  danger of social media platforms and what is and is NOT okay to share.

I can’t imagine what it’s like growing up in this time of the world and the pressure to share “you.” I know that as an adult, the idea of validation and acceptance in the form of followers and likes is powerful and addicting. But I also have enough emotional maturity to know that it’s not real; that it’s not where my worth comes from. But younger ones aren’t there yet. They don’t have the ability to separate reality with social media acceptance.

I hate how they are exposed to so much more in social media. I watch these “notable” people share photos of themselves that range from the pouty “sexy” face, to positions that are (in a grown-up’s eyes) insinuating a provocative message. Their SnapChats are full of videos of themselves watching themselves on the camera. It all breaks my heart because they feel this is what they should do too.

Adults, if you have young people in your life, talk to them about this. Remember where they are, and try to understand their reality, but talk to them. Let them know how dangerous it is to share photos that are so revealing. It’s inviting trouble where it’s not wanted. Stay connected to them and teach them not to overshare parts of them; teach them that the screen isn’t real. Protect them.

Okay, rant over.

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