Monday, March 1, 2010

How Much is Too Much?

Since starting this blog in January, I've been reflecting on what to share, how to share, and when it's just TMI. But how do you know? Where is the line? I think it's clear that I don't mind sharing embarassing stories (I certainly have my fair share), but to go beyond into intimate details just seems inappropriate. Then again, I'm from a different generation than some of the more prolific sharers, so the question is, when do you share and when do you hold back, and when are you just an old fart who keeps things close to the vest? (Hey did that just sound a little bit like The Gambler - you gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em . . .)

I'll admit that I'm an habitual Facebook status updater, and a newly initiated tweeter on Twitter. But I also know that I value my privacy and I surely don't want to cultivate a stalker by oversharing. Many of the statuses (stati?) that I share on Facebook I would never share to the "wide world" on Twitter. At least on Facebook, I've got my pre-screened "friends." Then again, there's the human ego that wants attention, and the inner voyeur in all of us that wants to know what others are up to (why do you think Facebook is so popular?). I know the things that raise my ire in the virtual world . . . potty training photos on Facebook, tweets about bodily functions and doctor appointments (I even read an article recently where a woman "live tweeted" her abortion -- I don't know where the line is, but I'm sure that's over it).

There are some grey areas, though, especially as a woman. Sharing about a delicious meal at a new restaurant after the fact seems like a great idea. It might even spur other recommendations for great places to eat. Sharing that you work on the first floor of the Reagan Building is probably not wise. You don't need to tell the world you're going to be staying at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago from the 4th-7th. I've watched with interest as some of the people that I follow on Twitter share their upcoming location, including address and time for all the world (or their 347 followers) to see. Another Facebook friend with babies, who had very innocently posted their picture as her profile photo got a creepy message from someone she didn't know commenting on her kids. No more baby pictures for her.

So, maybe I've watched too much Nancy Grace, or maybe you just never really know who's watching with interest where you'll be drinking this evening. Sure, most people online are totally benign and willing to help you out when you need advice for a new hotsopot to hang out. But in these days of oversharing and instant gratification, it just stands to reason that someone who shares too much is asking for trouble. Or at the very least, asking for a very large therapy bill for their poor kid who's potty training pics are now circulating the internet.

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