07 June 2009

Too much sharing?

A few of my colleagues and I were in a meeting and chatting about the strange world in which we now live - the world of sharing one's every thought and activity with "the world" via blog, Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. (Please note that I am SO not cool enough to send out Tweets via Twitter...I have opted instead to blog, which is apparently SO over....according to a New York Times article Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest...only 7.4 million blogs of the 133 million blogs tracked by Technorati were updated in the last 120 days....)

One of my colleagues expressed confusion about Twitter, "I don't really understand what it is," he says.

Another colleagues pipes up, "It's like micro-blogging. You get 160 characters and you send those out into the world. If you want to follow someone's Twittering you can choose to have it viewed on your computer or sent directly to your cell phone."

"So, what exactly do you do on Twitter?" asks the first colleague.

"Well, it's like people share their most immediate thoughts or activities and it creates usually really stupid dialogues like, 'Oh, I have to go to the bathroom' and then someone else Tweet's back, 'Really, I just went to the bathroom like 10 minutes ago!'"

Everyone laughs.

"It's so WEIRD that people want to share that stuff with the world!" exclaims another colleague in our meeting.

Are we sharing too much?

For me there isn't much draw in Tweeting via Twitter (in part because "Tweet" and "Twitter" just sound so...stupid) because I can't express enough in just 160 characters. I opted to blog at first simply to provide friends, family and colleagues regular updates about our adoption experience. However, since writing comes about as naturally to me as breathing this format seems to be working well for me.

But am I sharing too much?

I am a LONG-TIME journal keeper - since I was 13 and now I'm 41. When I write about my life and experiences in my private journals, obviously I don't hold back. This blog has certainly, at least for the time being, replaced my private journals and I find myself sharing quite a bit with "the world." Should I be holding back here? I mean - people with whom I work are reading this.

In our conversation on Friday, some of my colleagues and I questioned whether it's a good idea to post crazy or exceptionally personal things on places like Facebook or in a blog.

"A lot of employers," says one of my colleagues, "actually go to Facebook pages to check out prospective employees. I mean, if you've posted a photo of yourself drunk and stupid on your Facebook page, is that what you want your future employer to be seeing?"

Do my colleagues need to know my inner-most thoughts and fears about becoming a mom? Will it make them uncomfortable when they see me around the office?

This same colleague went on to describe the case of a young teacher who was denied her teaching certification because of a photo she posted on her Facebook page showing her wearing a pirate hat, holding what looked like a mug of beer, and captioned "Drunken Pirate." The young teacher apparently appealed the decision and was ultimately granted her certification.

What if I leave this job eventually and as I'm searching for another job my prospective future employer Googles me and encounters this blog? Will I have shared too much and will that person be turned off to me? Will I lose out on a job because I have shared too much?

Why DO we feel so compelled in today's world to share so much of our private lives? Whether it's reporting on your bathroom trips via Twitter or your Drunken Pirate party experience on Facebook or your experience of becoming an adoptive parent as reported on BlogSpot.com?

I can't answer for anyone else, but for me...I like to read people's personal stories. I can't say that I would particularly care to read about everyone's need to head to the loo, but somehow I find that reading other people's stories about motherhood, their professional lives, their spiritual lives, etc. helps me to order my own world. I so appreciate that these folks are willing to share - to be brave and put their thoughts out there.

It's kind of like the way I prefer to read fiction narratives to non-fiction or biographies. I relate better to a story when I understand what the character is thinking via inner monologues and the dialogue of that character with other characters in the book. I recently finished reading March by Geraldine Brooks (a fantastic read if you need a new book!) and learned more about the Civil War than I ever did during the history classes I was forced to take in high school (history classes in which I had to attempt to digest the most dry, boring history text books in the world) because the characters were so compelling and I felt that I was living just a little bit of that experience through their tales.

A true personal story or a fictionalized account of a person experiencing an historical event simply resonates with me and stays with me.

And so I read blogs to learn about how other people are coping with their lives. What they're thinking and feeling and doig about those thoughts and feelings. And this helps me to bring order to my own thoughts and my own life. It is comforting to know that other really bright, intelligent men and women struggle with the same issues that crop up in my own life (not that I wish struggles on anyone!) Reading about how these bloggers work through those struggles is often quite inspiring.

And sometimes I leave a comment or two - maybe something that might help them even a little in working through whatever it is they need to work through or even just to remind them when they're struggling that there are other folks out there who can empathize. A comment that says, "I hear you."

For me - blogs represent shared human experience. Perhaps I am hoping that by sharing my experience with people "out there" in the blogosphere that something in my story may help them make some order of their own experiences. Maybe someone will hear me, too and leave me that little comment that makes all the difference.

And so my plan is to continue to share my inner-most thoughts about this adoption journey and, most likely, to continue sharing about my experience of motherhood once the Little One arrives and we become Plus One.

Have I shared too much here?

1 comment:

  1. Humans need connection - we crave and will always build community (albeit in myriad forms: the front porch, the barrio, even the community of animals/plants as we've often seen with people who go live in "solitude"). In a country where we're usually at great distances from those we love best or, if lucky enough to live nearby, are so busy that physical time together is less frequent than we need it seems nothing but natural to use the connectivity of the internet to share. The accompanying extra - both negative & positive - is that the internet connects us to others beyond our immediate circles (that's the plus and minus of it: we meet amazing people online and also we are available in whole new ways). I dislike how I have no control over what material comes up when people google my name - it doesn't seem right. I grew up in a world in which privacy was more of an option I don't think I'll ever get used to this "Brave New World," but I do love the connectivity allowed by the Internet. My dear globe-trotting friend has remained an important presence in my life because of this (esp. when she was in places with no mail service like Kabul). For that reason alone I will never regret the internet and the mixed bag it gives us. xoG2