Today, I read this blog post. While I’m not living in an isolated part of Germany with only my partner and no other people I feel comfortable with or know, Shannon’s writing resonated with me deeply.
Since middle school, I’ve spent copious amounts of time on social media. It started with AIM, keeping in near-constant communication with all my long-lost friends, to MySpace, changing my layouts and updating my top 8 (figuring out the order of where you ranked in my life), to Facebook in high school which stuck with me all the way through college, to now in 2015. It’s truly amazing that even before texting existed, I was constantly talking to people I didn’t even live near any longer.
Social media is always evolving, and now we have more than I can even name. I actively use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and GoodReads. I had a brief affair with SnapChat and a couple others, but those relationships ended. As Shannon explained, we end up with so many outlets to document our lives that we’ve run out of life to fill them with.
Being in touch with people I care about has always been incredibly important to me, but the older I get, the easier it is to remain in touch through these outlets, and the less I want to. I don’t use any social media the way I used to, and the list of ways I use them gets shorter and shorter every day. Now, it’s more of a quality over quantity thing. Do all my followers really need to know what song I listened to while I brushed my hair this morning? Or why I argued with my husband that day? Or what Isla’s poop was like that morning? No, didn’t think so. And these are all updates I see on Facebook and Twitter all the time. Even now, I can’t figure out why I post a lot of the information that I do. Which brings me to my blog.
Having a blog, as Shannon said, is my safe space. I can share whatever I want on here, and the information shared is within my control. I can talk about new friendships or ones that have died, my daughter (and share as little or as much information as I want to), my relationship with my husband and family, or rag on my ex-boyfriends. I can trust in this space to be consistent when my life, surrounded constantly by new people, new places, and new experiences, is ever-changing. I can create my own little corner of home on the big, bad Internet; a place that I can come back to and know that it reflects me as accurately and honestly as possible.
After reading Shannon’s post, I found myself reflecting on what I post and who sees it on a daily basis. While I really want to share this information with some people (my family and friends), I probably don’t need to share it with a guy I went to middle school with who I’ve spoken to for approximately four minutes since I was 12. For all I know, he’s a criminal now with a heavy background in auto theft, and he probably doesn’t need to see a video of Isla dancing in the kitchen with my grandma. These are things I only rarely thought about before Shannon shed the light. I have to remember now that the only person worried about my exposed information and memories on the Internet is me, and I can’t think of one good reason why I should be sharing my life with people who I’ve only met once, can’t imagine ever speaking to again, or worse, don’t know at all. I don’t gain anything from exposure.
Moving forward, I think it’s important to focus more on living life and less on living life so it’s portrayed well in social media (not totally discussed in this post, but I’ll highlight it in a later post). It’s vital to remember that what I share will always be shared (whether I can see it or not). While social media is wonderful for staying in touch with friends and family who are far away, we should always remind ourselves of just how open and accessible these outlets really are.