Being genuine online in a world of oversharing

I’m prefacing this post for the sake of being genuine with the fact that yes, this is an image of someone else’s desk because I currently do not have a desk setup of my own. We moved in September and the house is still a work in progress. But this is a clean and satisfying workspace, is it not?

It’s not news that we live in a social media-first world now. Information discovery, communication and customer service all lean heavily on the internet (to put it lightly) and increasingly more on social media and personal content. Everyone has a platform. We’re no longer relying solely on fact-checked, journalistic pieces of content from verified sources, but reporting on and dissecting every tidbit of information – fact, opinion or insignificant detail. We’re reporting when people take pictures together? really?

But I digress.

On an internet led by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social networks, it’s easy to get carried away with what and how much you share with your “friends.” However, it is possible to stay genuine online while also keeping your privacy, your honesty and your sanity.

Limit the amount of times you post

Yes, these platforms are meant for posting personal things, but limiting the frequency of your posts to once or twice a day per platform gives viewers the time to digest each one. The fun of social media is to stay in touch with people’s lives that you may not be close to all the time, but too many updates may make people feel like they need a little distance. When you hang out with friends and family in person, you get to go home and regroup before you catch up with them again. Give your online friends the same space. Plus, do you really want to spend so much time regurgitating every little thing that happened in your day? Give yourself a break, too.

Save the drama for in person/on the phone

While juicy gossip and sassiness can intrigue some and spark a good debate, airing your dirty laundry isn’t adding value to your onlookers’ lives, is it? Being genuine doesn’t mean sharing everything. Please be your sassy, candid self, but save the negative emotional release for the next time you see your mom or call your bff. Or if you’re still feeling compelled to broadcast, turn your grievances into a positive learning experience to share. Connecting with people on a personal level is what builds relationships, but gaining value out of experiences shows everyone that a) you’re human and b) you have the ability to grow.

Check your facts

By all means, share your opinions (constructively), but please, please, please check your facts before you post. As I mentioned before, there’s far too much “reporting” on others’ reporting that may, in all reality, be opinion-based to begin with. So before you react to a shared article or photo or send a subtweet, do your research. On all perspectives. One of the greatest things about the online world is that we have the potential to share and understand multiple perspectives. One of the worst things is that not everyone listens (read: has a open mind) to more than one of them.

Choose your posts wisely

Going along with limiting your number of posts – be selective about what you’re posting. If you’re only going to post one thing today (positive or negative), what one thing are you most compelled to share? Choosing your content wisely means you’re posting what’s most important to you, and that will mean more to your friends – they’ll probably pay more attention – than if you post every little thing that comes to mind. Thinking of others when you’re sharing content also makes what you’re sharing feel more genuine because the people reading it can tell you’ve put thought into it.

Social media in particular has completely changed the way we share and consume content online, and if we’re going to continue to make it better, we as users have to take responsibility for keeping it in check. There are too many scary statistics now on the correlation between social media and depression and anxiety, and two ways we can work to overcome them and also stay true to the nature of genuine social media are to talk about it and to stay aware of what and how much we’re sharing and consuming.