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?