I’ve always been a private person, which sounds funny because I write a blog. But I am. I’ve never been one to spill my secrets, share my angst, or otherwise reveal too much unless I know and trust you. I don’t crave the spotlight. I just like to write.
There have been a few articles lately on the effect social media is having on us in terms of over-sharing. I just read one on Yahoo! about how one man’s tweet about a bad date caused hundreds of people to respond and share their own, obviously worse, stories. Like a competition. One woman said that when she showed up for her date the man asked her to go home and change because he didn’t like what she was wearing. Another man said he was freaked out because his date brought 25 photos of Sylvia Plath’s gravesite as a conversation starter (she sounds like a treat). Another admitted to accidentally pushing his date down the stairs. The man who started the tweet-a-thon was surprised, noting: “People don’t mind recounting things that in a previous age would have been considered deeply personal.” I’m sure he got over it though since he gained 5,000 followers.
While I don’t think it’s over-sharing to tweet about your bad date, it does bring up a good point. There were many times when I was dating where I’d make fun of a date with my friends, maybe even post something on Twitter or Facebook because I wanted others to see evidence of how hard I was trying and how everyone I was meeting was somehow inadequate. But that’s not really true, is it? In the end, it was about making myself look good, rather than making my date look bad.
How much time do we spend figuring out witty things to post on Facebook, or which pictures make us look the most interesting, attractive, etc? It’s a 24/7 display of who we try to be to other people. It can get exhausting, all of the updating on all the cool things we’re up to, who we are, and what we like. It’s yet another way to create a persona—to brand ourselves. To become who we want other people to see.
And how does this affect our dating lives? Well, the online over-share has spilled into the real-life over-share. We’re starting to feel more comfortable telling a date about well, anything. We need to look interesting, or exciting, or stand out from all the other daters. Maybe we talk about crazy exes we’ve endured, health issues, difficult relationships with family members. Sometimes we try to out-do each other with crazy or painful stories. Has social media broken down those self-protective barriers we have? Do we actually feel more comfortable talking about ourselves and our own struggles than anything else?
I don’t know what the answer is, I just know that social media (and maybe a little reality TV) has made all of us look at our lives differently – anybody out there can see what we’re up to and what we think at any time. It’s put us on display, so that it’s not so difficult to share all of those dirty secrets we used to hide. Or we make up an exciting persona for ourselves online that we try to be in real life. That hasn’t really happened until now.
It’s interesting to think about where we go from here.