Baring your soul… on social media

I just got a phone call from an old friend – let’s call him Mike – who I haven’t seen in over ten years. Mike is a friend from college and I was surprised and pleased to hear from him. One of his first questions was “how you doing?” He phrased the question in such a way that I knew it wasn’t just a breezy “how YOU doin’?” (a la Joey Tribbiani); he was sincerely wondering how I am these days.

As background, Mike and I are Facebook friends and we’re connected on LinkedIn, too. He grew up in the same town where I live, so we used to connect here. But he lives on the West Coast, I live on the East Coast, and we don’t get into one another’s geography very often so we haven’t touched base in, as I said, well over ten years.

I see Mike’s Facebook posts all the time and “like” them. He goes on great outdoors trips with his family, skiing and whitewater rafting. He and I share the same political leanings so I’m usually amused at his posts. But I was a bit surprised when he asked how I was because I thought it was fairly obvious. Apparently, it isn’t.

Mike asked how I am because, despite my ongoing presence on social media, he wasn’t really sure. And I realized that, despite my involvement on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, I don’t reveal very much at all. I’m a somewhat private person. So while I may ‘like’ videos all the time, share everything I come across about saving elephants and rescue dogs, and post frequently about the art of social media, I don’t talk about myself very much. And I certainly don’t open the kimono, so to speak, to provide any revealing information.

Upon reflection, I don’t think I write about trivial matters. I try to talk about issues that I believe are on people’s minds. But topics such as social media and the fear of technology are not revealing of what’s going on in my life. Consciously or unconsciously, I feel – like many others of my generation, I think – that there is such a thing as over-sharing. I’d prefer to know who you are and screen my personal life rather than have it open for all on display – which brings me to my final point.

You can stay in touch with people, promote your ideas, and be active on social media without “giving yourself away.” That’s the fear I hear from many baby boomers. They don’t want to share because they don’t want everyone to know everything about them. And yet I seem to have done just that.

I share all the time. And I appreciate seeing what others are up to, which can range from new dogs they’ve adopted to interesting scientific information (it helps to have a friend at the Smithsonian – thanks, Kirk!). My “big reveal,” then, is don’t ignore social channels because you feel you’ll share too much of yourself. I’m here a lot and it seems I haven’t yet bared my soul to the world.

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