This is a weird thought I had on Sunday night after posting the following to Facebook:
I know I’ve been a bit in your face these last two days but please indulge me for a few more hours. I’ll be quiet probs from 10am tomorrow for about a week. I hope I haven’t annoyed you all too much… If so sorry
Over a period of 48 hours on my recent trip to New York I posted a total of 72 times to Facebook (only twice to Twitter) with comments, check-ins and photographs. This count begins from the point of setting off from our house and ends upon arriving back at the same house. This count doesn’t include comments and replies to posts. I can’t imagine what number that comes to.
An outsider may question whether I actually saw anything of New York since my face and fingers was almost permanently attached to my phone. Why wasn’t I able to enjoy my experience without feeling the need to share with everybody?
I’ve been questioning my motives since Sunday. Was I just boasting? ‘I’m in New York and you are not!’ I don’t think that is it. I hope not, at least. Was I bored? No, certainly not. I had a brilliant time. Am I addicted to social media? Perhaps a little, but that’s not enough of an explanation since today I’ve only posted twice to Facebook. I think the real answer lies in the artist in me who just wants to share great things. I see something amazing, ordinary, or extra-ordinary and I want to share the joy I feel at seeing those things with everyone I know. Social media allows me to do that in an instant. I get a kick out of seeing a blue sky over the New York skyline. I feel joy at drinking a very potent Cosmopolitan at the end of a night. I feel happiness at wandering around China Town. So I want to give some of that feeling to the people I care about. I know I’m not the only person who feels this urge to spread the joy. There are a few of us out there.
However, perhaps I need to consider the fact that not everyone wants to have a piece of my astonishment at the weird and wacky world we live in thrust upon them. But I’m not sure I am able to stop. My virtual friends, as I’ve expressed before, are as valuable to me as my real ones so I do want them to be with me in some small way when I have great life experiences.
I think that I also get something in return from sharing. I’m sharing because I am selfish. I get joy and release from the act of sharing on social media. There has been some research into the ‘oversharing’ on social media phenomenon. It functions in a similar way to therapy. One of the great things about therapy is that you can let spew your thoughts, anxieties, and issues without judgement and immediate response. Facebook is a bit like therapy. Generally, there is no response and if there is a response at all, it isn’t immediate. By which point the oversharer has had the boost to their happy hormones that they so badly desire.
I think that oversharing is also is like looking in the mirror, which we do for confirmation of the inner perception of the self. By sharing something of the self that might in the real world be keep concealed, the oversharer is seeking reassurance.
It is also argued that the oversharer is desiring a level of celebrity. I am certain that I fit into that category. I’m not sure that is a good thing to admit. It seems shallow. But if I didn’t want celebrity I wouldn’t be writing now in an online forum, I’d be writing it in a little notebook kept locked under my bed.
So I apologise dear virtual friends, but the oversharing will most likely continue. You are my therapist and you make me feel good.