Friday, January 24, 2014

Social Media and Dignity- When does sharing go too far?

"I had to go out in that storm to round up our horses, because my husband was too drunk AGAIN to do it. Pretty much like every other night."  a mother at our playgroup for kids birth to age 5 added to the conversation. She was mostly speaking to me as I was at the table with her, but her response to the horrible thunderstorm that had gone through our area was completely audible to the entire room. Everyone shifted awkwardly in their seats, and eyes lowered to the floor. I muttered something about "Sorry to hear that", or maybe it was "That must be hard." I don't quite remember. It was a good ten years ago that this occurred.  I don't remember exactly what I said back, but I think I said something to ease the tension.  I hated the feeling of all the momma judgement in the room.   It was only a decade ago, but long enough for social protocol to have shifted for what was private, intimate information, and what was okay to be shouted to a room of acquaintances. This woman's very private proclamation was socially awkward, and made the entire room uncomfortable. The social atmosphere was not one of best friends, and this private information was violating the small talk conversation style that was happening at the time.

This was life pre-social media.

Now seems to be the age of over-sharing  How many times do we come across Facebook posts, and tweets about subject matter that we would have never shared with a group of virtual strangers 10 years ago? We seem to have forgotten about the circle of familiarity rule. Suddenly, everyone's private life is in our face with information that we used to save for family, and close friends.

There's a specific kind of over-sharing that makes me particularly cringe.