Thoughts on the tell-all Internet culture
Social media is a creepy thing.
Like an intimate look into your bedroom window, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Vine allow others to get a good glimpse at what it's like to be you. I don't want to alarm anyone or talk about how unsafe broadcasting yourself across the Web is, because "How to Catch a Predator" aggressively did that. But, it's crazy to think how much our perspectives on online presence have changed in less than a decade.
I remember in seventh grade when I first embarked on my social media adventure. MySpace was my first conquest, and I loved it. As a shy private school girl, I stalked all the wild older high school kids – a world I was about to enter. I commented on my friend's pages (it sounds weird not to say "wall") constantly: writing about inside jokes, plans for the weekend and filled out questionnaires, signed with a charming (and ingenious, I thought) "LOVElizabeth."
My glory days on Myspace were short-lived. My parents quickly discovered my profile, and while they weren't going to force me to delete it, I was so embarrassed that I did anyway. How could I think it was O.K. to upload information and pictures of myself for the entire Internet audience to see?
My hours of crafting the perfect profile page were ruined: compiling the perfect list of favorite musical artists, choosing my "top eight," agonizing over the appropriate words for my "about me" section, selecting a few of my best photos to create an exact brand of myself. (Question: how much did everyone hate the "top eight" feature? The act of publicly declaring and un-declaring your best friends always seemed wrong to me.)
I eventually recreated my Myspace profile, although quickly graduated to Facebook once high school hit. (I recently logged on to my long lost Myspace account, and insist you do the same as soon as you can. Nostalgia and self-loathing in its best form.)
Nowadays online, anything goes. Headed to the beach? Tweet about it. Got a new haircut? Cue Instagram selfie. Not happy with the latest results on The Voice? It's time for a Facebook status. Gone to a concert? Vine it.
It's terrifying, really. All it takes to learn the details of your everyday life is a quick Google search of your name in quotations. My results include my profiles for LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Etsy, numerous articles from my local newspaper where I'm mentioned, the student newspaper I work at, a camp I attended years ago, Ladies' Home Journal from when I contributed a photo and a couple random websites.
To avoid being hypocritical, I will say that I'm not at all in favor of abandoning widespread sharing on social media. It's the way of the times, and to ignore it would be archaic. As both participant in and observer of the "social media age," it's necessary to note the change in personal censorship over the last five years.
"The idea of social media–having an audience and taking pictures for people to see–that's a scary thing. When I was young, things were simpler."
-Sofia Coppola to W Magazine, June/July 2013 issue
Image: collage by Moshekwa Langa