by Kristen Abell
There’s been a bit of discussion on the interwebs about vulnerability, TMI or general sharing and social media (check out posts by Vijay Pendakur and Valerie Heruska). Naturally, as someone who shares quite a bit online, I feel the need to weigh in.
Here’s the deal for me and social media – the people I connect with online are my friends. They’re not my “friends” or even just my “followers,” they are people I’ve connected with and with whom I’ve established relationships. Do I seek feedback from them from time to time? Absolutely – just as I do from the friends I see face to face. Do I share with them what’s going on in my life? You bet. Sometimes that’s in the form of pictures, sometimes it’s sharing that I’ve been suffering from depression, and sometimes it’s just that I’ve made it to the gym today. And I admit, I check back to see if anyone has liked my posts or responded – sometimes it gives me a little boost. Sometimes it just lets me know someone is listening.
Does this make me shallow? Perhaps. But it also means that when I disappear from social media for a time because I’m not feeling well, people notice – and they care enough to ask me what’s going on. It means that people who are also experiencing difficulty similar to mine have a touchpoint, someone else who is experiencing the same thing. It means that when I am struggling with making it to the gym, the promise of that extra cheer or push from someone gets me there when nothing else will.
Maybe I’m not the greatest example, but I think we’re all still feeling our way through communicating using social media, and we’re bound to make mistakes. I think we need to have patience with each other as we continue to develop our own styles of building relationships and sharing online. And I think we need to appreciate that the relationships we develop online are just as real as those we develop face to face and deserve the time and energy we put into those.
All that being said, I reserve the right to be annoyed by your posts – and to unfollow you if I find myself spending my energy on being more annoyed than interested or entertained. Just like I reserve the right to walk away from you or not be friends with you if I find you offensive face to face. See how that works?
What are your thoughts on how we use social media for sharing?