This is perhaps the most beautiful time in human history; it is really pregnant with all kinds of creative possibilities made possible by science and technology which now constitute the slave of man – if man is not enslaved by it. ~Jonas Salk
Be quiet, I’m trying to Tweet ~Me
Nancy Baym explores the way technology can affect relationships in the later chapters of “Personal Connections in the Digital Age”. In one specific instance she references the idea of “oversharing” – or TMI (Too Much Information) that often plagues the internet:
“One man I know took to ignoring Facebook status updates because he got so turned off by the new parent friends’ posts about their children’s body excretions” (147)
With the onset of social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter, oversharing seems to be the new norm:
“Ryan is soooo drunk right now!”
“Julia is so f*cking sick of her boyfriend!”
“Tim had a great time with Megan last night ;)” “Megan Likes This”
Say it with me – T. M. I.
People seem to have an idea that tweeting or updating their status so hundreds of people can read it is acceptable; and normally it would be.
“John just got a new Xbox” – Fine. Harmless. I’m excited for you John!
But when someone tweets or says something they would only tell a close friend offline, so that all of their followers or friends can read it, I can’t help but cringe and wonder if they should have kept that to themselves.
In my opinion, oversharing can lead to paranoia. Think of the above example. What do you think Julia’s boyfriend thought of that status? He probably is going to be walking on egg shells in their relationship now, worried that either a) Julia is going to tweet the most intimate details of their private life, b) Someone interested in Julia is going to swoop in and steal her because she just broadcasted that her relationship is vulnerable.
With the new technology we have, cultivating paranoia is easier than ever. Living with my sister, who is 25 going on 17, I have heard these first hand:
“Who the hell is this girl writing on his wall?”
“She’s such a skank!”
This paranoia can now be ever present because of the ability to know exactly who our friends are interacting with, where they are, and what they are doing at any given moment of the day, thanks to Twitter, Facebook, and Four Square.
One man used technology as his ally for his paranoia: he turned on his wife’s “Find My Friends” (a feature that allows you to see where your friends are at anytime, if they want you to. Hi Big Brother!) technology on her iPhone 4s without her knowledge and tracked where she would go, convinced she was cheating on him.
“The user claims his wife told him she was going to the Meat Packing District, a location in the lower West Side of Manhattan. Instead, the Find My Friends feature indicates the woman was on 2nd and 65th St. — a far different neighborhood that would be difficult to confuse.
“She said she is in meat packing district which is on 12th street. I don’t think so,” the user wrote, uploading screen shots to the website that appear to corroborate his story.”
He certainly seems like a paranoid fellow based on his texts. Perhaps it would have been better for him if this technology did not exist? The funny thing is, the man posted all of this on a popular public forum; a lovely example of oversharing..
The article does not go into details of what happened next; instead it has the opposition’s view; quotes from users claiming this man’s story is fake because he was a new user on the forum. That theory doesn’t hold water for me; maybe he just wanted to share this info with fellow iPhone users?
Like, “Life 2.0” this article sort of presents burgeoning technologies in a negative light: Have a Second Life, your first life will get ignored. Have the ability to track someone wherever they go, your paranoia will go through the roof and your relationship is over.
This technology “doesn’t bode well for the future of marriage” says CNET writer Chris Matyszczyk.
I would alter part of that quote to say “the future of unstable marriages”. It’s easy enough to blame the technology for the marriage trouble, but chances are, even without “Find My Friends”, that marriage was already in trouble.
In a way, constantly broadcasting your location so that anyone can see where you are is the ultimate form of oversharing; the only way to make it worse would be if the camera and microphone were on so everyone could see and hear what you are doing, as well. But who knows, maybe I’m already too old. Maybe kids will think broadcasting your life via video and sound is cool and that will be the selling feature of the iPhone 7.