Do I share too much online?

3 April 2018

Results from comScore’s 2017 survey show the average person spends 86 hours on their phone per month. 86 hours?? That's a lot of extra time that could be spent sleeping or working out or socialising or eating - preferably sleeping and eating.

To add to this, according to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, 'people have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information...but more openly and with different people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time'. And he's right. In 2017, the Instagram Stories feature had more than 250 Million active daily users - surpassing the number of users on the Snapchat app and miles ahead of the annual readership of most popular news outlets.

In light of the recent Cambridge Analytica & Facebook hiccup, which sees both organisations at the centre of a scandal harvesting the personal data of around 50 million Facebook users to allegedly influence the outcome of the UK Brexit referendum (sigh!) and the Trump presidential election (double sigh!) Millions of people have asked the question if they're sharing too much on Facebook? Is the privacy on their accounts as robust as it could be? And should we #DeleteFacebook? All questions which I struggle to answer myself.

After Facebook deceived consumers by telling them they could keep their information on private, and then repeatedly sharing it in 2011. And then the time in 2010 where third party apps including Farmville and Mafia Wars were being given users names, online habits and other personal information of players regardless of privacy settings.
I bet your asking, 'How can Facebook with what I assume to have a fully resourced Security and Public Relations team create yet another a scandal'?

It all started from a little personality quiz on Facebook over 4 years ago. The tool was built to obtain data of the person taking part in the quiz AND the data of their friends.

The Internet and this current age of information sharing has its pros and cons. Whilst Social Media and Online engagement are now crucial for almost all businesses. This Cambridge Analytica and Facebook mess is the perfect example of its disadvantages. For the individual, the extent of most peoples use of Social Media consists of posting holiday pictures, sharing videos like  "Charlie bit my fingers" (believe it or not, this was the number 1 video on Youtube for a longer length than it should have been) and as a forum for obtaining news and information from all across the world. 

For me, Social Media has grown to be an extension of my daily life. An extension of my life that's both toxic and dangerous. I'd be lying if I said social media didn't have even the tiniest extent to controlling my life. I'd also be lying if I said I didn't care about it.  Not only is there the potential for embarrassment (and trust me, looking back on the tweets from my 13 year old self - there is certainly a lot of embarrassment). Over sharing can have long-term consequences to your social life, education and employment.

We often hear of online safety lessons for parents at schools and tips of how one can spot the extremes.  But is the information we share on a daily basis going about our normal lives too much?

Thanks to the dark web, there are only a tiny proportion of technology using individuals that have no online data footprint. It's not like we go about posting our passport number, national insurance details or other confidential information. But you may have shared your name, age, city & maybe even who you're dating before. You may have even said “today’s my birthday” or tweeted a complaint to a help account claiming "Barclays bank is rubbish" then information about where you bank and your date of birth is available. And the person/company collecting all your personal information can then build up a profile based on what is shared online.

As a blogger, I share outfit pictures and trivial things like where/what I eat, what I'm doing with my free time and the products I'm loving. Even though I regularly update these details on my Instagram, Twitter and Blog (plug galore!), I am uneasy as I have no idea who views these and how companies, criminals and creeps might exploit this information.

Take social media platform Foursquare for example. One of my University friends uses Foursquare whenever we go out. She uses the app to pinpoint her location, letting people know the places she visits, checks out menu recommendations and reviews of people who had previously visited whilst collecting points and coupons.

In the best of cases, applications encouraging us to share information like Foursquare claim to provide tailor made recommendations based on a users location check-ins, previous browsing history & purchases. Or in the not so best of cases, such social media applications phish for your information and use this to influence the outcome of supposedly democratic events *inserts iPhone emoji of woman shrugging*

In my opinion, part of this over sharing 'social norm' comes from the pressure to be successful. According to a survey conducted by Badoo, 62% of people use the Internet to share good news  i.e a job promotion, pregnancy, engagement etc. Others use it to share miscellaneous details of our lives.  I myself fall into this category.

Do I/we really need to tell online ‘friends’ about the drinks we're having, or time spent with our friends and family?

If everything in our life is as fantastic as we want social media to perceive it to be, then why are we wasting time posting about it when we could be living in the moment? Social media is the perfect tool to compare our lives to everyone else's. And that is what brings me onto an entirely different problem. We post more on social media when we want to boast about something. And as great as our achievements may be, millions of people are falsifying their lives on social media to show the world (or your 700 Facebook friends) that you are happy, successful and enjoying life. It's sad, right?

Why everyone should give themselves a social media hiatus.

The requirement to record and post every aspect of our lives takes the spontaneity out of life. As 57% of 18-35-year-olds think individuals share too much about their personal thoughts and experiences, with the continuous rise of technology being a key factor to this - I wanted to give myself a break from it and truly disconnect from everything.

If I'm being completely honest, taking a mental hiatus from social media is a lot easier said than done. 

Although my 3 day break was refreshing and I had such a great time being offline and living in the moment, there was part of me that was always asking 'What new emails have I got?', 'Am I missing something important?' and 'I wonder what so and so is posting?' This reconfirming the extent to which I am sucked into social media and the digital life. 

Whilst taking a break may not be as important for everyone. With so much of our time spent either looking at a screen or scrolling through a feed, having some time away from a screen whether its one hour or one month is something I thoroughly recommend. I salute you if you go for a whole month. 

Like all good things, online sharing and social media is best in moderation.

Outfit Details...

Top -  Boohoo (old)
Jeans - New Look with DIY by me (old)
Bag - Beck SonderGaard  (Gifted)
Shoes - Office


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