Friday, April 2, 2010

Don't Overshare on the Internets

Do you remember when you discovered the internet? And all the horrors and glories - and porn - it holds? I, being the band geek that we have established that I am, spent much of junior high and early high school emailing back and forth with a girl who had a website about the flute - pieces she was studying, programs she was performing, etc. I got lots of great music recommendations from her, got her advice on the new flute I convinced my parents to buy me, and still wonder what she's up to.

These were also the days of AOL chatrooms (remember "a/s/l"? - that's, like, the great-grandparent of Chat Roulette), wherein I could indulge my propensity for nosiness and compulsive lying, curing me of the latter and only encouraging the former. However, I also remember clearly the day I realized that the internet could bring people together and also disseminate information at lightning speed. I was a senior in high school, skipping class and chatting online in the library, when someone mentioned they'd seen something about a school shooting on TV. This was before news sites had instant updates (or, more likely, before I knew about the news sites' instant updates), so I got all the information from all the other people in the chat room with me, then went home, turned on the news, and saw the images from Columbine.

Eventually, during my sophomore year in college, I ended up getting sucked into the narcissistic world of LiveJournal and life hasn't been the same since. I can't remember if LJ came before or after my forays into online fandom and television message boards - who knew that Buffy the Vampire Slayer could bring so very many people together? - but I do know that I made some of the best friends I've ever had through that awesome network of tubes and wires.

What I didn't do? Fill my LJ with the TMI of the drunken and slutty college life that I was living, or post inappropriate pictures on Facebook. (Because, kids, this was before Facebook. Can you even imagine such a dark time?) And ten years later, I say OH THANK GOD. Those pictures are tucked safely away in unmarked photo albums on the top shelves of closets where they belong, ready to be destroyed the moment my children grow into their snoop phase. And the memories? In my brain and the brains of friends from college, but through an Icehouse-soaked haze. NOT preserved for posterity through the magic of Google cache.

Here's what I also have not done: Picked fights with my partner online. Written about my constipation to introduce myself as the new editor of a pop culture blog (and followed it up with a post about farts). Posted pictures of my placenta on Facebook (I am not linking you to specifics. You are welcome). I also have not made very very creepy fanart (sorry about that), shown off my terrible tattoos, or stalked celebrities and then Tweeted about it (she was SHOCKED that anyone would think that was inappropriate).

I know the allure of internet anonymity can be tempting. And if you want to write Baby-Sitter's Club fanfic (that one's a classic) or about your adventures as a Vegas escort (NSFW), the internet is a great place to do it. But if you're blogging less anonymously or posting on Facebook, please oh please keep your TMI to yourself. Not just for your own sake - we don't have to tell you all about employers who Google, right? - but for all the rest of us, too. Because we don't care about your kids' diapers, your awesome new vibrator or dear GOD your hemorrhoids. (Minor bonus points for the anonymity on that one, though.)

So the next time you're thinking about Tweeting the details of your GI distress or writing a bitchy (or, worse, lusty) comment on your partner's Facebook wall? Just stop, think about the rest of the internets who have no interest in needing to run out and bleach our brains, and don't share more than you need to.


  1. Amen hallelujah! I pretty much refuse to blog for this precise reason. Can we add cyber begging to this list as well? It seems everyone with a blog these days is hitting up everyone they know for money. To buy a house. To buy a dog. To buy a new vibrator. Whatever. JUST DON'T.

  2. [Posting anonymously so I can't be tracked back to this.] I know a girl who posts locked journal entries about her sexual exploits. Yes, they're locked, but she still shares them with people. People who then C&P those entries and e-mail them to others so we can all point and laugh and "EEEEEEW" at what she's been up to. Even if you're posting "protected" stuff, you have to remember that EVERYTHING can still be shared. So don't overshare unless you want everyone knowing your business, period.

  3. Can we talk about how amazing it is that both comments on this post are anonymous? I love it.