Every time you post an update to Facebook, think very hard about the image you’re communicating and whether this is the image that will get you closer to achieving your life goals. You might also question your own motives. Ask yourself why you feel this need to share, or perhaps over-share, the details of your personal life. Are you trying to seek attention, approval, or acceptance? And are the people whose attention you seek really the people who care about you and your well-being? Those friends and family who value you for your inner qualities won’t be impressed at all by your online shenanigans and there’s a more than even chance that they’ll be put off by your lack of judgment in baring your soul, if not your body, for the whole wide world to see.
But why? What compels us to tell the world with our fingers what we’d hesitate to utter in a room full of loved ones?
Social scientist and author Sherry Turkle thinks we’re losing a healthy sense of compartmentalization. Last year, researchers at Harvard found that the act of sharing our personal thoughts and feelings activates the brain’s neurochemical reward system in a bigger way than when we merely report the attitudes and opinions of others. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Bernstein of the Wall Street Journal asked around and concluded that our newfound urge to disclose is partially due to not only the erosion of private life through the proliferation of reality TV and social media, but also due to our subconscious attempts at controlling anxiety.
“This effort is known as ‘self regulation’ and here is how it works,” she writes. “When having a conversation, we can use up a lot of mental energy trying to manage the other person’s impression of us. We try to look smart, witty, and interesting, but the effort required to do this leaves less brain power to filter what we say and to whom.”
While all these viewpoints help us better understand the oversharing epidemic, they don’t exactly address how the Web itself entices us to expose information that we probably wouldn’t otherwise.
It seems the internet messed our brains up. Cheers!
Maybe we should also be posting the photo of the drinks we are toasting… meh…