One of the most hot button topics that comes up when debating Facebook (and social media) in general are the ethics of sharing/oversharing. More specifically, the impact it has on the psychology of both the person who shares and the person who’s supposed to receive the message. Sharing has become a de-facto habitual activity that almost everyone engages on an almost ritualistic basis.
And it’s addictive. It’s very possible that you sit down to lunch with a good friend, looking forward to catching up and to your unpleasant surprise, however, your friend’s eyes are glued to an iPhone screen, and it’s almost as if your every attempt at conversation is met with a reluctant disengagement from a device that seems to contain the world in its entirety.
Labelled in its’ origin as a device that ‘brings people together’, over time it’s become a medium of self-expression of people with varying interests and hobbies. And by extension, a virtuous way to sort connections with people having the same interests and goals. It can be all encompassing and addictive, by providing people with a ‘voice’ with others to share. That in turn overall, feeds into the fantasy that an individual has of inscribing his/her worldview to the world.
But where do you draw the line?
It’s kind of scary to consider, but are we even thinking about what all this Tweeting and Facebooking is doing to our mental health? Self-disclosure plays a central role in the development and maintenance of relationships but too much of it, creates a disappearance in the line of private and public. A lot of ‘sharing’ is done as a psychological retort to what’s going on with the personal lives of an individual and more often than not creates a ‘false image’ of you to the outside world. One that you yourself help facilitate.
It’s understandable why it happens. The world of work can be increasingly repetitive and routine and having something like this acts as a fighting measure against inactivity. While social media can offer many benefits to society, and to young people more specifically, it can be argued that it has also transformed our culture into one of over-sharing. Taking Facebook and Instagram as examples, they allow us to present our own filtered sense of reality, showing only what we want to show.
This can lead to a person critically comparing their life with other people’s and using others’ posts as measures for successes and failures in their own life. The impact of this could be catastrophic feelings of low self-esteem. Overuse of social media can cause narcissistic tendencies in teens and anti-social behavior in young adults. Studies found that daily use of Facebook can make people more prone to depression, anxiety and other psychological disorders.
Research finds that the more friends one has on Facebook, the less socially adjusted he or she is. A study conducted on students entering college found that those with several hundred Facebook friends had less actual friends, and their social skills were poorer than those who had less Facebook friends.
And while we’re speaking of ethics, there’s the issue of consent. By sharing and posting, we’re willingly allowing ourselves to be tracked and located, no matter where we are. Both Facebook and Twitter use ‘metadata’ which gives out our geographical location, which would be a terrifying Orwellian warning but now is a commonplace activity. Also, it makes you easily prone to stalking (Especially in the case of females) and in a country which is already notorious for improper treatment of women, this is troubling.
It’s urgent to be responsible and think clearly when trying out Social Media. Actions have ripple effects and consequences. Those can be avoided if users keep the bigger picture in mind and share responsibly.