Is Sharing Really Caring?



Have we lost the ability to experience a coffee or a holiday for ourselves and not for the likes and social media gain?
You know that episode of Black Mirror with the smart phone and the woman is automatically rating people even when she doesn’t have the gadget? That’s what my future looks like. And I'll probably snapchat it.
People seem to be on autopilot, ready to update their status and share their thoughts, memes,  news, photos, dinner, skinny no cream extra shot lattes, break ups, holidays and just about everything else. As if; if we didn’t document it on at least one social media platform-did it really happen?


I am both fascinated and frustrated with this concept. I hate seeing people out for dinner and spend the whole time on social media or going to a concert and watching it through a 5” screen. Yet, I couldn’t wait to take a snapchat of my lunch today. It’s like an itch, a fidget. I just have to share that the cafe downstairs does amazing cakes!


Youtuber, Leena Normington, considers herself as an “oversharer” and uses the internet as a way of getting to know people and a way of sharing places she had been to. The youtuber uses her strong online presence to recommend books, music, places and even pushing for people to vote. I noticed through the general election campaign, proudly, Leena was shining light onto who she was voting for “But not in a preachy way”, she joked. This is used in a very deliberate way as she is so aware of her following, she knows she can influence-not preach-influence. And her passion for books and political party is something, I believe, should be shared.


But, not everyone has such a ‘following’ like Leena or Zoella ,so why do people continue to share if they go on night outs or stay in bed till 3pm (v guilty)?


Danah Boyd, a social media scholar, explained that there is an “always on culture” :
“There are those who log in solely to communicate with others. And there are those who use it to convey presence and state of mind. Needless to say, the latter is much more a part of the always on ethos”


So are we really communicating that we are on a night out-and to who? Or are we wanting to boost our online presence of being a socialite because we’re looking hot as fuck and want to grab ALL the likes?





I asked a group of people why they shared content online and Ike said he rarely shared things on facebook but relies on whatsapp groups with his close friends. “Sharing is either to talk about or illustrate an experience”. While that can be transferred to all content sharing, Ike emphasied that he enjoyed seeing what his close mates were up to-they were happy, which made him happy. There is a cosy close knit feel about this way of sharing, especially during summer when friends are off here there and everywhere.


Miriam said: “I share things I want to remember and then share with my friends.” But does that leads to more questions. Who are these “friends?” Are all of my 400 friends on facebook really my pals? No. I honestly do know them all-but friends? Ha!

Many use twitter and instagram as a way of conveying how they are feeling. I know I have certainly publicised one too many breakdowns in 140 characters. I think it's because we want someone to listen to us without being directly "help me I'm sad/angry/scared". Instagram is engaging more with their stories add-on, and although Ray commented saying he finds Instagram to have a smaller audience-I had to disagree on a personal level-my instagram is open to all-my facebook (despite being friends with people I haven’t spoken to in 7 years) is more selective. Therefore, I use twitter and instagram a hell of a lot more. It’s in the moment. More people are watching. Reading. Listening. I am sharing this to 1600 followers...I’m not really alone.


....Right?


Does it give me a sense of popularity? The one I never could grasp in real life? Do I feel less lonely?


But is anyone really out there looking for what my attention seeking ego has to say?


Now this is where things get complicated. Not only is my ego getting knocked a bit but when I share things about my life-I realise that I am short of actual stories to tell people. Because they’ve seen it online. I got a new hair cut. People saw it before I stepped out the salon. Woke up late for work-people know before I even got to work because I snapchatted my coffee with a caption-”I’m late for work lol”. What is the need? I have been asking myself this more and more. As I roll my screen affected eyes at other people’s shares-I roll at my own. I don’t want to have all of my life online. I don’t want to see what people I knew at school did over the weekend.

Will I ditch social media all together-definitely not. I don’t think sharing is a bad thing-I enjoy instagram at times and I like memes on facebook. But after speaking to people and reflecting on my social media use, I want to start to filter what I share (and I don’t just mean the Insta-filters). I want to get back to experiencing a view without sharing it 1600 people, eat ice cream without making a boomerang of it. I want to disconnect my reliance n the internet, keeping it for blog and work purposes but instead putting more energy into experiencing things away from an instagram lens. Social media can be used in a wonderfully powerful way, if done correctly. I don’t want to waste it with another “coffee then out out” snapchat. Maybe I can restrain my scrolling fidget fingers. Maybe I won't be like that woman from Black Mirror after all.

*Thanks to those I spoke to and shared their thoughts for this.