Monday, July 23, 2012

Something I must share with you

The other day I saw something posted by a friend, which was a graphic with the text "I always wanted the power to read minds, then I joined Facebook and got over it."

It's nothing new to suggest the various online outlets allow for no shortage of "over-sharing" where a fair number of thoughts that perhaps would have been better kept to oneself get aired in a public (or at least semi-public) forum. It seems pretty clear that genie is out of the bottle, and short of unplugging the entire internet we're not going back to some world where that isn't the norm. Obviously that is throwing the baby out with the bathwater, for a problem that is only a problem if one chooses to engage in the social media/blog/comments realm. One can turn off one's devices or not go to particular sites (or not scroll down to the comments section) to avoid that if one so wishes.

The thing is: We don't.

Not only do we choose simply to avoid certain parts of the 'net, we actively seek out things in those sites that give us something to over-share. We delight in getting up in arms over some quasi-controversy like the Daniel Tosh rape joke. Whether we were amongst the small number actually in the room or the overwhelming majority who merely heard it reported second (or third, or fourth) hand, we leap into the virtual fray with our kneejerk responses because…

Well, because…

Um, because… we can. Whether we have something particularly clever or thought out to contribute has no bearing on the situation. The paradigm has become that if one has a thought the onus is on one to share it. Whether anyone else is paying attention to it becomes irrelevant.

And really, it's probably best that there's more proverbial shouting than listening. Presumably the collective venting facilitated by our modern outlets achieves only allowing us to feel like we were heard, to get these thoughts out and let off that steam, but that serves some purpose. With enough people heaping on their reactions there's bound to be some others who have the same opinion, providing one with a sense of not being alone, and there's bound to be others who disagree there's further inspiration for more cathartic fury, but because it's about the spouting, not the absorbing, we are unburdened with having to justify our outbursts.

That's not saying there aren't considered thoughts out there on the 'net; of course that content is available as well. But while those of us doing that may be on a somewhat higher rhetorical plane, we may not be giving the world something ultimately better. Heck, we may only be pissing off someone else who needs an outlet for that frustration, and without that person over-sharing online the alternative might be something we really would not like.

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