For anyone who follows me on Instagram, you'll know that I regularly post pictures from my professional and personal life. For me, both worlds are interconnected so it feels natural. In fact, I think that all my posts are personal because everything I do needs to feel authentic for me.
But last week I questioned a photo I shared on Instagram. As soon as I posted it, something in me told me to delete it, which I did. It just felt far "too" personal to share. I felt overexposed.
Deleting that photo got me thinking about the line between being open and too open, between sharing and oversharing. Is it possible to share personal details and pictures from my life and still be somewhat private? Is that even possible in the digital world? Is social media making the idea of privacy obsolete?
"Privacy is one of the biggest problems in this new electronic age." Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel Corporation
Andy Grove, former CEO of computer giant Intel once said, "at the heart of the Internet culture is a force that wants to find out everything about you." Some like the Kardashian clan have willingly turned their private lives into a social media enterprise, making millions in the process. The Kardashian phenomenon has turned our collective notion about privacy on its head. No details seem too private to share.
Our notion of privacy is changing
Speaking at an industry event a few years ago, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg said that privacy was no longer a social norm. Zuckerberg maintained that "people have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people."
The stats certainly support Zuckerberg's claim. Facebook has 1.65 billion monthly active users, Instagram has over 400 million and Twitter has 310 million. More and more of us are online from every corner of the globe, sharing our stories and opinions from the highly political to the deeply personal.
It's all about balance
I'm an active social media contributor and follower and see the value in this. Social media tools are enabling us to have conversations and connections in virtual communities centered around shared interests and passions. But I recognize the need for balance and limits. Finding that balance can be tough and the line between sharing and oversharing can be paper thin. Here are some ideas to help you draw the line.
Practice common sense
Like all forms of communication (verbal, face-to-face or written), it's important to think about the intent before hitting the send button. When you're thinking of sharing something, ask yourself what the bigger goals are. What am I really trying to communicate? What's the connection I'm hoping to make? With who? Is my message clear? How might it be received or interpreted (or misinterpreted)? What's the value, benefit, long-term impact?
Think in the long-term
Do the things you post represent the best version of yourself? Do they reflect something you'd be proud to share with all the people in your life - now and in the future? If you were to look back at texts or pictures that you posted 5 years from now, how do you think you would you feel? Proud? Ashamed? Regretful? It may take just a few seconds to post something on Twitter or Instagram, but it will live in the digital world for years to come, easily accessible by everyone, including potential employers.
"I've learned the hard way how valuable privacy is. And I've learned that there are a lot of things in your life that really benefit from being private. And relationships are one of them." Ashton Kutcher, actor.
Respect yourself and your followers
While I accept that our notions of privacy are changing and continually evolving, especially in today's digital world, I agree with Ashton Kutcher that there are certain areas of one's life that should be private. At the end of the day, each one of us has to determine what those areas are. I think the most important thing is to respect yourself, the people closest to you and the people who have been kind enough to follow you. Present the best version of yourself and the authentic things that matter to you and your online community of followers the most. That's the value of social media.
Do you think social media is killing privacy? Does it matter? Have you ever posted something you later regretted? Tweet me @NatashaNKPR or leave a comment below.
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