The Share Everything Generation
A new epidemic among young people…oversharing.
Before 2007, teenagers were not on Facebook because Facebook did not exist. It was a simpler time. If a teenage girl wanted to lament the loss of a two-month texting relationship with a boy from her school, she had to find a group of friends willing listen to her melodrama. If she wanted to win allies in a battle against her parents, she had to explain how unreasonable her parents were to each of her friends individually. It took much longer to build a team of allies. If she wanted to passive-agressively confront a friend about said friend’s behavior, she had to get creative. The preferred method was to write a fake note to a mutual friend and leave it where the offending friend would find it and thereby deduce that all her friends were talking about her behind her back. Yes, teenagers had to be a lot smarter before 2007.
Today, Facebook, Twitter etc. offer teenagers the luxury of complaining, arguing, gossiping, attention-seeking, and passive-aggressively attacking their friends and exes with the click of a button. Facebook gives us all what we crave: a captive audience. The days of venting in front of a mirror, imagining what it would be like to really let someone have it, are over. Facebook allows people to type up exactly what they are feeling to no one in particular. The great irony is that what we write to no one can be seen by everyone. And thus, the age of oversharing was born.
“If it’s anonymous, it doesn’t count.”
“If nobody knows it was I who said it, there can be no consequences.”
“If I don’t name names, it’s not gossiping.”
Each of these is untrue. We believe them to appease our consciences. First of all, words are swords. They can be used powerfully for good or evil. It doesn’t matter if you can’t see who’s holding the sword, it still cuts you the same.
“Tired of you guys playing games. If you did it then tell me!”
“If they wanna talk to me they know how to reach me. I’m done texting people to be ignored.”
“I hate how girls are all talk and when you go to confront them they wanna back down.”
There is nothing more juvenile than an emotional, passive-aggressive accusation at a person whose identity is so thinly veiled that a baboon could figure it out. Social media is an integral part of society and posting a status, tweet or post like that is the same as standing on a chair in the cafeteria with a megaphone and announcing, “I hate when CERTAIN PEOPLE (cough,cough) don’t text me back!” 90% of those in earshot would know who you are talking about in a matter of seconds. They are classmates, your mutual friends. They are very keenly aware of social politics.
In no real-life situations is this denouncement of another person acceptable, but the false sense of anonymity on Facebook makes it fair game for adolescents and even adults today. The result is drama on a cosmic scale.
Some inconvenient internet truths:
- Employers check their employees’ Facebook and twitter accounts
- They also screen job applicants this way
- If someone has wild spring break photos, twenty-first birthday photos, or their statuses are dramatic and irresponsible, they are unlikely to get a job
- This is not unfair. Nobody is discriminating against anybody. Employers are guarding their businesses, which is in their right to do.
- Things that other people post about you are just as much of a liability as things you post yourself
“Facebook causes drama”
“Facebook is addictive”
“Twitter is making us narcissistic”
“Twitter takes our time away from us”
“Pinterest is making us feel inferior as mothers and housekeepers”
None of these are true, either. Facebook doesn’t cause drama, people cause drama. Twitter doesn’t waste your time, you waste your time. See what I’m getting at here? I believe that social media is neutral; it is what you make it. People are shocked when Facebook doesn’t treat their deepest, darkest secrets, vomited into a public status for validation, with delicacy.
Like many things in life you have to take the good of social media and leave the rest. (1 Thess. 5:21)
Two questions to ask before you post something on social media:
1. What story am I telling?
2. If I went back and read all of my Facebook statuses, would I recognize me?
Think about this. Our heat-of-the-moment selves are not our best selves.
Then instead of Facebook being a place for passive-aggressive emotional rants, it becomes what it is capable of: a place for connection, relationship, humor, encouragement and inspiration.