Having used many Social Media Platforms, interacted with other SM users and spoken to people who vehemently oppose the use of SM.
The common thread would appear to be an acknowledgement that being online, in any capacity, requires a certain amount of boldness and a willingness to be (to whatever degree) exposed.
Especially in cases where individuals decide (like myself) to use their real names, photos and dare I say, be open and honest with others.
There are obviously many aspects to being open and exposed on SMPs but I would like to highlight a few points, one being, the perceived notion of sharing TMI, too much information.
While I acknowledge, I’m still young-ish and I haven’t reached middle-age yet; in my life-observations, I have experienced enough to know that individual perceptions, perspectives and subjectivity are all important factors in deciding what contributes to sharing TMI.
Understanding that we all have varying levels of willingness and comfort should be enough to know we live on a sliding scale.
Without wanting to sound contradictory, there are levels (in which some go to) which the majority of us agree, is way too much.
Over, approximately, the last 45 years, my study of human behaviour (among other lessons) has led me to believe that there’s a distinct difference between private individuals and secretive individuals.
These observations are strictly based on a personal level, omitting the actions of individuals which are employed in sensitive jobs requiring information to be kept private, for a variety of reasons.
On a personal/inter-personal level, to summarise :-
The private individual
Tends to operate on a strictly need to know basis in their interaction with others.
They have a small circle of friends, which takes them time to develop.
They tend to be individuals who would call others, acquaintances, associates or colleagues until others have passed their stringent criteria, before being called friends.
They are selective with family/relatives as to what information they share.
As an adult (if they are not single) they are extremely selective as to the information they share about their relationship and are usually in long-term relationships with people who are compatible and able to deal with their trust issues.
They are not interested in so-called celebrity issues and what goes on in the lives of others, refusing to comment on relationships etc. which do not concern them.
Above all, a true ‘private’ individual avoids SMPs at all cost and will only use an online forum or group, if work demands, keeping interactions strictly professional.
The secretive individual
In comparison, is somewhat of, for want of a better word; Chameleon.
They are selective with what they share, as and when it suits them.
Their circle of friends are larger and don’t take as long to develop.
They tend to be individuals who love to hear about the situations, relationships etc. of others including celebrities or people in the public eye, whether they know them or not.
They are prone to discuss those situations, using them as talking points in social settings, while being guarded about most of their own actions, opinions or relationships.
Without sounding too general, as adults, they are usually single, or have short-term relationships.
If they are in relationships, they are with partners who are good at dealing with their double standards.
Unlike private individuals, secretive individuals will (some would say hypocritically) venture online and have SM accounts, usually with partial info, which can also include alternative profile photos etc.
They are very happy to comment, voyeur and read what others have to say, while keeping the majority of their true opinions to themselves.
Above all, secretive individuals, on SMPs, whilst readily reading the comments and thoughts of those of us on the sliding-scale of openness and honesty, will be the ones more likely to post and remind others about the need to not share things, or as they put it ‘not share everything’.
It’s important to remember that people come from differing backgrounds, have life experiences and points of view they want to share, that’s why they use SMPs.
Our experiences are not necessarily unique, many go though similar situations due to making similar choices and interacting with similar personality types.
However, how we deal with those situations are unique and it’s worth sharing those unique actions and results to those actions, in order to help others go though their situations, or give them an additional perspective.
The comments about sharing TMI (usually made by the secretive on SMPs) usually come from a place of distrust, fear and hurts.
All past experiences which (rightly or wrongly) have taught them to be more cautious.
Their warning shouldn’t be completely ignored (by the open and sharing community) they should be met with a level of understanding which could assist, in being cautious, with people who are possibly not as trustworthy as they initially appear.
In life, for balance, it’s important to look at differing aspects and points of view.
Socially, it is human nature to congregate with other like-minded individuals, compatibility of views, opinions, faith etc. usually equates to a more harmonious environment.
However, it can also limit our thinking and prevents us from having a capacity to understand others, who don’t think like us.
Both limiting and boring to someone like me, therefore I try to reach out & interact with a range of people (within reason) in order to find relatable middle-grounds of interaction.
What the secretive fail to understand is, they can be spotted and assessed (by people like me) in both real-life social settings and online.
They are not really as carefully guarded as they believe they are.
They need to understand, what they share/retweet, the comments they make, the posts they like, the people they follow, their unwillingness to comment on the specific posts of others while continually sharing their posts, as well as their religious stance, are strong indicators as to what they all about, no matter how ‘guarded’ they think they are being.
It’s important to remember and understand, that Blogs online such as this (contrary to popular belief) are extremely relevant to life and it’s issues today.
However, I admit, there are many on SMPs who post, based on theory or what they’ve read or heard.
While they can be correct in their regurgitation of theory/facts, while they may get many shares/reposts due to the status and popularity, it’s always wise to seek to communicate with those with real-life experiences.
Education is important but never overlook the value of ‘real life experience’ while looking for education where it’s most needed.
There are obviously many different scenarios to choose from, however, for example; Would you want someone in a hospital, opening you up and operating on you, without knowledge, experience or training? I know I wouldn’t.
I’m an advocate for counselling and going to see counsellors, I would be a hypocrite if I said I wasn’t.
The following can be verified by others but I will say that I have and continue to counsel others, however, I’m fully aware that there are those who are better qualified to deal with specific areas and I will always encourage a person in need, to seek those people out.
As I previously stated, I’m not saying you need to experience everything in life before having an opinion or offering help.
However, I will encourage people to look at the bigger picture.
Do those you listen to, have experience in life?
Have they suffered loss and successfully dealt with grief and pain?
Have they made some bad choices and mistakes, learned from them, while understanding the power of forgiveness?
Have they been married for a good number of years to the same individual?
Do they have children?
Or are they people who continue to exhibit a list of poor choices and actions?
The list is endless but it’s important to remember that some, may not have the accolades, titles, awards, fame, followers etc. but we know what we are talking about; having lived it.
Please do not misunderstand, I’m not an advocate for sharing every single aspect of my life, thoughts and feelings.
On the other hand, I do not share and serve others (aka minister) from a position of distrust, fear, un-forgiveness, past emotional hurts or pain, therefore I share a lot; with the objective of helping others.
The next time you see a post (on whatever SMP you frequent) warning you of sharing TMI, it’s important to remember this post and remember that some of us are here to help others.
That help requires a certain level of honesty, openness and sharing, in order to show transparency, build trust and assurance for the reader and those we interact with.
Watiwa Mtoto wa Yeshua
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