Less is More: Why Oversharing is Not Good for You

The people who followed me on twitter might be missing me on their timelines now that I had officially deleted my twitter account. As for the people who are following me on instagram may have (or may not) realised that I have deleted my photos. The impulsive act was the result of days of contemplating the importance of presenting my life to the people I may (or may not) know and the significancy it has brought towards my conflicting soul.

Before we go into the in-depth explanation of why I chose the title as it is, please bear in mind that this is a purely subjective post. With that regards, some may agreed and some may view this post differently and that’s alright. After all, differences are what bring colours to this seemingly black and white world…

A few days before taking the step to delete my precious twitter account and eradicate my photos on instagram, I stumbled upon a video by CollegeHumor. The video outlined the idea that some instagram users value their posts more than what it is and how some people are using instagram to get affirmation/validation from other fellow users. I was dumbstruck. Even though the video was intended for entertainment and of course, humor, I can feel that it also functioned to ridicule — well maybe ridicule is too strong choice of a word, but more like… to quip some people, maybe including me.

I was a religious user of twitter. I loved my twitter account as if it was my own baby. Born on September 2nd 2010, it would have been to elementary school if my twitter was human. Twitter and I were inseparable. I read my timeline like a suffocated person gasping for air, twitter was my main source of real-time information. What I gain were all informations and knowledge, but what I share… not really. I share everything, everything from important issues to unimportant things like “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, I’m bored” on twitter. When I went to school, I updated it, when I got home, I updated it, when I was angry, I tweeted it, when I was sad, I tweeted it. My twitter was like my sacred temple that was not so sacred, because anyone could just open it up and judged what kind of person I was, until I decided to go private. I had over 1200 people following me on twitter, some were real people some were spam accounts who had access to my whatever I shared.

I clung to my instagram posts, as if they were Da Vinci’s Monalisa or Gaudi’s Casa Milà. I started my account on 2012 but became an active user on mid 2014 when I started studying in my current university. Upon starting my account, I already had the vision on how my instagram should look like: black and white filter only. The idea surfaced when I first post the photograph of my parents and I looking all happy and sweet in black and white filter (but it was unintended, at the beginning) — the black and white filter made the photo looked a bit boring which was the contrary to the reality. It was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had with mom and dad. After that post, I realised that people might assume or even judging our lives from our posts, and I wanted to follow that story, by sharing things in black and white and had them assumed that my life was also plain, black and white — just like that instagram filter. That was the initial idea, but as the time went by… I have formed this strong odd bond with my account.

I was exposing my liabilities and took a very great pride in it. The kind of things I shared was not like to embrace body positivity kind of posts but more about the tornados and hurricanes that were happening in my life and most of all, it was all about me, complaining and being ungrateful — basically acted like a snob. They were not positive. The problem worsen when instagram launched the instagram story feature that allow anyone to share anything on a 15 seconds video limit that would be kept for 24 hours. I went crazy. Some other people went crazy. Maybe this had to do with the fact that it would only be kept for 24 hours and the reassurance that it wouldn’t be there forever that people (including my old self) share whatever they want and exposing their lives to people who did not even know them (but I think partly this was influenced by the lifestyle majority of people are adopting today, the reality shows and entertainers who even had a show about their life, but do consider that not all of us are the Kardashian, alright?).

On the second layer, I became sort of addicted (I don’t know the word for this, I’m one level under addiction) to other people’s posts. The endless scrolling experience, from the morning I wake up to before I went to bed, I had to scroll the instagram, I had to scroll twitter timeline, see what people were doing with their lives (some people share too many stories, sometimes I thought to my self, maybe this what others feel too when I done the same thing. Thank God I did not over-share my ideals, my thinking and shove it down other people’s throat like some people I’ve seen — which is one of the reasons why I now rarely open my instagram), compared it to my own and went to bed with a heavy burden on my shoulder that I was an underachiever and more often than sometimes ended up wide awake, cursed myself and looked for ways to get back to sleep. I cannot help but to linked this feeling to the story of assassination of one of the presidents of USA — it was like being shot and knowing that I had been shot but was unable to locate the position of that exact bullet, with other people also unable to locate it — there is hope for cure and regaining health but the bullet had already poisoned my body and ended up leaving me dying — like what happened to President Garfield. I know it seems wrong to somehow equate myself with President Garfield but I couldn’t help but to link my feeling to his story. The toxins from questioning my self-worth from this virtual platform sometimes made feel very inferior and cost me my self-esteem. When I wanted to post a photo with an inspiring caption to be a better person, an achiever in life or to improve one’s self I felt like I was being a hypocrite because the motive behind that post was questionable: was I doing it for me (to help me boost my confidence), or was I doing it for the fame (just so I could be compared to other “inspiring” people on instagram) or was I doing it simply because the post held an important lessons and values and people got to know; but then again I thought, was a motive really just a motive or was it a mixture of other intentions? Posting a post on a social networking account that used to be simple and easy then looked a lot like finishing a college application. I felt like if I do not change, I might (figuratively) die.

I tried to change my habit with instagram by taking some time off, took a hiatus for a month or two, or just a week or so, to regain positivity and linked myself back to the people and things that were not virtual. I also have tried changing the types of photos I would share (the one I think hold the most art value) and altered the captions to be somewhat thought-provoking, but I got trapped. I would constantly be checking my account for new notifications and when the likes/comments were not what I was expecting, I got sad. Weirdly sad because I valued the instagram post very highly but found out that others might not. Maybe, this is what Simon Sinek meant when he mentioned that millenials are basically here to “make an impact, whatever that means” — I do not see how sharing a photo of me wearing a hat holding my phone, captioned, “I like hats. and warm hugs!” would impact someone’s life, let alone mine. This basically happened for a few months, I noticed this because I spent a great amount of time perfecting the photo I wanted to share and thinking as if I’m solving a mathematical problem on what to caption it. That was not art, I’m telling you, because sometimes I did not enjoy making it, sometimes I felt I was on an autopilot mode — ah, capture! edit this on vsco! open instagram! add inkwell filter! caption! post! — as if it was a part of a routine and found no novelty in it, or say, no authenticity in my posts… simply because I posted photos in black and white (and had my other photos in black and white) does not make it authentic (even though the captions were authentic especially when I decided to write it as a poems or had an elaborate explanation on why is why).

Then, comes the problem of privacy. I used to have my accounts unprotected, I couldn’t control who followed me online. Now, when I share things online, I think twice on whom I should let see or even peek into my life, think of how many people who possess the piece of information I’m about to divulge — are they worthy of having such information? and if I think they are, do I believe that its safe with them?

I’m thankful for some social networking sites that have the “protect my account” “close-friends” “inner circle” because providing those features alone signify that even the company that runs based on how much people share (bits and pieces of their life), value their users’ privacy, and why shouldn’t I value mine?

To conclude, I would say, using social networking sites are okay. You want to share your life? thats alright. You want to peek into other’s updates and assuming what they’re doing with their life? its okay too. But do consider to have some restriction on what to share and what don’t. Furthermore, your social networking accounts are not who you are, how many likes or followers you have do not represent your worth. Please do not develop a too serious bond with those accounts, use it for fun, not to stress yourself, and if you find yourself stressing over what to post, if I may advise, take some time off and engage with things that are not superficial (what things? thats yours to decide). And again, when posting things on your social networking accounts, think of who you are sharing it with and are they worthy of knowing?

Privacy is something you can sell, but you can’t buy it back.

disclaimers:

  1. Not all my tweets are empty and unfulfilling, I used to have #KulTweetWithZhifa where I shared knowledge and share my ideas, but most of the tweets I shared contained complaints about life and other things I knew I couldn’t change and I had developed this uneasy too strong bond with that account I thought it represented me as a human being. Come to think of it, its not. I decided to delete my twitter account simply to challenge my self to be a more content individual and being more careful about sharing my ideas.
  2. Not all my photos on instagram stressed me out, one of the sole reasons why I deleted those photos because I wanted to start over and get full control on whom I share my stories with and find my own authenticity.
  3. I still think that twitter and instagram are great platforms to share good things, I was just not using it to its best potential.
  4. I think that exposing your privacy is not the same as being authentic.
  5. The above-written quote in cursive was said by Bob Dylan.

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