Yesterday the European Union celebrated Safer Internet Day with the theme Think B4 U Post. Although the message was aimed at teenagers, there’s a lot that adults can learn from it.
I see Facebook status updates from friends and acquaintances detailing the contents of their breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They talk about their daily routines — benchpressing, donut-eating, commuting, and grocery shopping. Every time there is a fad, they participate — sometimes telling the world at large the kind and color of underwear they’re sporting.
They post photos of their shoes, their hairdresser, their choice in toilet paper brand. They share what song they’re currently humming. They make available their phone number, their e-mail address, and date of birth. So consumed are they by the concept of communal sharing that they forget the dangers of such public “nudity.” Not many use privacy settings on Facebook to limit access to their personal information. Hardly any ego search.
When I had joined Facebook way back when, I was foolish enough to do most of the above. Until I realized, no one cares that I skipped breakfast, or had a taco salad for lunch. Social media is a powerful medium — it helps reconnect, but it can also be harnessed to engage people into something more constructive. Something relevant. So, I started asking questions — sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes mindless — and immediately saw a keen interest. People wanted to share. To relate. To connect.
I don’t post personal updates (except on the occasional weekend) but still share my deepest thoughts, albeit with a question mark at the end. And people journey with me.
When I started blogging, one of my biggest fears was putting myself out there. On Facebook, I can control access to my photos, my wall, my status updates, but in the blogosphere the door to my mind is wide open. Everyone can come in, partake, celebrate or reject, leave without a trace, or bring a gift to share. But therein lies the beauty of it, too. I can use the power of this glass house to gauge reader interest — to see if my words touch strangers’ lives. To assess if my writing has any meaning to those who don’t really know me, but know me.
It takes courage to knowingly share what you hold dear with the world. And I appreciate the encouragement I have received from groups like She Writes, IndiBlogger, and Writers Rising. But all the same I tread these waters cautiously. The Internet is a nasty thing — once you put something on here, it’s permanent. There is no scope for Oops! There is no taking it back.
So, before you post anything personal online, think; assess; reflect; rewrite; and only if it is really relevant, hit the update button. Also, Google yourself to see what the world knows about you.
Find anything interesting? 😉