Living online – are there limits?

We’re well familiar with coffee-point discussions about reality-TV night-time romps of “did they, did they not do it?” Contestants on these shows are happy to live their lives in public view in the hope that they may achieve some form of celebrity status. Most people who engage with such social media as blogs and social networks are not seeking notoriety. Most are simply finding new ways to connect with friends and like-minded people. But as more of us spend more of our time online the lines between what is personal and what is public start to blur dramatically.

I am engaged in what I consider to be relatively small networks of friends and aquaintances online. I have my blog, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and and so on. I share thoughts on social media, work, likes, dislikes and interests. I also share thoughts and experiences that are sometimes quite personal. The small, familiar community offers a ‘safe’ space to share life experiences. Here’s the thing however; almost everything I write in these online networks is immediately published publicly and globally. While I can restrict updates on some sites to my own friends the default is always to have everything public.

Marie, Johnny and I recently had a late night conversation about this and that conversation has stayed with me. The nub of the discussion was that while everyone is entitled to say whatever they want about themselves online, there are probably things that people are better off not talking about… mostly for their own sake.

So, if you have a disastrous relationship breakup, for example, is a blog post the best way to get things off your chest? Is it the most appropriate place to express your anger, pain, disappointment or hurt? Is it fair to the other party, no matter how mad you are at them? The online community offers a supportive space for us to share our highs and lows, but maybe there are limits. Are there? Should there be? What are the risks?

4 thoughts on “Living online – are there limits?

  1. Hi Mahon, thanks for the link. Reading the last line of the article probably sums up what Andrew Keen is saying here: “Somebody needs to explain the corrosive economic, cultural and moral consequences of a Web 2.0 world in which beauty, talent and knowledge are all being amateurized by the online mob.”

    It is really interesting to hear strong viewpoints from people who are not advocates of user-generated content. I have to say that I disagree with that point of view. Giving a voice to individuals who may have struggled to have their views heard previously is a good thing. There is far more being published but there is huge richness in the myriad of personal stories that people share online.

    Beauty, talent and knowledge are not being amateurised no more than they were in ancient Athens where citizens gathered with philosophers and civic leaders in common spaces to share views, discuss and debate. There were probably subjects that were off limits in those places in those times. There will always be experts, but if the democratisation of viewpoints that is being assisted by so-called Web 2.0 technologies provides opportunities for more people to engage in the discussion then surely that is a good thing.

    I don’t believe that “traditional meritocracy of proven experts is in crisis”; rather it is actually enriched by greater participation and collaboration – the heart of this new revolution. What do you think?

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  2. Great post Brendan and I really enjoyed our discussion about this. I enjoyed the odd “out of left field” post but would prefer not to hear every little detail if the post is out of context in the overall blog. Hope we can chat again soon.

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  3. Hi Johnny. Context has a lot to do with it. Some blogs are always very personal and you always expect a certain amount of rawness. Others that are not always so personal take us by surprise when there is a personal sharing.

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