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Grand Valley State University's Beacon Since 1963, Allendale, MI
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Social Media Medley: Must...share...more...

There’s no arguing that we live in a social world.

This summer we experienced the first “Social Media Olympics” where tweeting and “statusing” made enough of an impact on the games that the International Olympic Committee was forced to disqualify several athletes who posted questionable updates on social media sites. During the first presidential debate in October, the number of tweets per minute peeked at just over 158,000, and there were more than a quarter million tweets mentioning our favorite Sesame Street-er, Big Bird.
Keeping in mind this new ability to take our opinions and throw them forth into the world in an immediate and lasting way, I am left with one question: are we over sharing?

The answer, of course, is yes. Between Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, Linkedin, blogs and the classic Facebook, we now know everything we ever wanted to about each other…and more. TMI (too much information) has become the social norm, and we feel perfectly comfortable documenting our often mundane lives for all to see.

Sounding egocentric? Oh, it is- and almost all of us are guilty of the over share (including yours truly).

We know what you ate for dinner last night (only Instagram could make Ramen Noodles look sort of hipster and cool). We know that you have a biology exam tomorrow, and that you’ll be drinking three more cups of coffee tonight (at least one of which you will take a picture of and upload to Facebook). We know that you have a cat named Malcom, and have seen pictures of him when he looks oddly happy, slightly evil and fat.

Look, what I’m saying is, if we played the newlywed game our team would probably win.

The funny reality is for all the “sharing” we do on social media, we actually use the sites for ourselves. We build this online persona that may or may not match who we are in real life. Our online personality is entirely constructed and reaffirms our beliefs about ourselves and our self-worth. If we think ourselves witty, we post statuses that try to make people laugh (ahem…me). We post dramatic quotes and songs if we believe ourselves to be deep. In the perfect online persona, we artificially get to be whoever we want to…and that is a powerful reinforcer.

However, we must remember that sometimes people really don’t want to see our roast beef dinner (I can’t even count how many times food pictures have made me jealous), and sometimes people don’t want to hear our wise-sage tweets or our advice statuses. We must also remember that what goes out into the Internet always has the possibility of coming back to haunt us. Do you want your future presidential campaign to be thwarted by that one mean-spirited, 141 character tweet that you wrote in a moment of passionate anger? I didn’t think so.

In the end, beware of what you share and keep your roast beef to yourself. In thinking twice before you type you make the inescapable social media world that much better.
ccolleran@lanthorn.com



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