OPINION: We should all know less about each other

Grace Clarke, Opinion Writer

With a combined total of 3,302 followers on all my social media platforms, all 3,302 of those have a preconceived notion of who I am, even if they’ve never met me in person. I portray myself a certain way for people to perceive me how I want them to. When actively posting on social media, it’s easy to share your life with your followers. The question is, when does it become too much?

Over 60% of Gen Z have a TikTok account, and 94% have some sort of social media account. With the world at our fingertips, it’s tempting to post our every move. Oversharing on social media creates the normalization of trauma dumping on complete strangers, which is an unhealthy coping mechanism, and can lead to unnecessary drama and a total lack of privacy. The internet is forever. And there are consequences to our actions.

I often find myself scrolling through TikTok and watching a video of a stranger sharing their full life story on the internet. By the end of the 15-second video, I know their worst traumatic experience, but won’t even know their last name. I don’t think I need to tell you that there’s a clear problem with this.

I must admit I’m preaching to the choir on this topic, as I have fallen victim to the temptations of oversharing on social media. It has only led me into a downward spiral of self-pity and regret. We complain about a lack of privacy, but it is our own doing, whether we realize it or not. Whether it’s snapping a picture of what food you’re eating or posting every status update that has ever happened to you ––  it’s a toxic cycle. Why do we want our followers to know and see our every move?

In my freshman year of college, I was known to be the “over-sharer” of my friend group. All my friends knew everything about my life, even the most personal and intimate parts. I soon began to overshare on social media as well. Quickly, strangers who followed me or just happened upon my page knew everything about me without knowing my last name or who I really am as a person.

All 3,302 know how my dad died. But they do not know me.

I used social media as a form of coping with my trauma. When my dad died unexpectedly, I would make TikToks about it using dark humor. I thought this was a good coping mechanism for me, but I regret sharing my trauma with complete strangers. There comes a point where I do not want people to know certain things about me, but once you share it with the internet it’s there forever. You can’t take it back.

We have almost created some sort of fake reality, a reality in which we get to decide how people perceive us, or so we think. However, the internet is forever and people will always come to their own conclusions. When everything is laid out for them, they will form an opinion.

As I begin maturing a little more, I’ve realized there is more harm than good in posting on social media. I now hate the fact that everyone who follows me thinks they know exactly who I am and what I’m going through. It’s quite simply not their business. But I made it that way.

In our generation, there is no sense of mystery anymore. A part of us feels as though we are entitled to that information. If someone in Gen Z isn’t always posting constantly, they are the ones considered outcasts, but perhaps they are the ones who have it right. So why do many of us tend to overshare?

People tend to overshare to vent emotions and stress, to let out their frustrations and to get attention. Also, not to mention social media encourages it. Platforms encourage users to share everything about their photos with status updates.

Gen Z tends to feel the loneliest out of every other generation. Fifty-six percent of Gen Z reported feeling extremely lonely in their childhood and teenage years. In contrast, only 24% of Baby Boomers reported similar feelings. We have learned to tuck ourselves behind a screen instead of going out in person and socializing. This eventually causes us to begin posting our lives on social media to feel as though we belong, or need reassurance that people care. Likes and comments give us that reassurance.

Oversharing on social media is also quite dangerous.

Posting your location online to the public can be extremely dangerous and open you up to the possibility of being stalked. Forbes talks about the now not-so-rare occurrence of being in danger due to social media:

“It has become an all-too-familiar occurrence in today’s era of digital openness. For example, Californian police arrested a 21-year-old man last September after he broke into the house and bedroom of a 13-year-old girl, whose address he’d discovered by studying her posts on Instagram and other social media sites.”

It doesn’t matter how safe or careful you think you are being; social media is an easy way to track other people down. New apps promote this dangerous cycle, like the latest popular app, “Be Real” where they will send you a notification to post at the exact moment they tell you to. After posting, your followers can see the exact location of where the photo was taken. Doesn’t this sound insane? Well, in the tech-savvy society we live in, it is quite normal, and many of us don’t question it.

Social media is right at our fingertips, allowing us to post everything about ourselves, including our location. We live in an age where everyone knows everything about everyone. Next time you post, think about the following things:

Is it safe to post this?

Do they need to know this?

Will I regret this later?

I promise you, after asking yourself these things, you will most likely not want to post it. Your followers don’t need to know everything about you, and you don’t need to know everything about them.

Grace Clarke is an opinion writer. Contact her at [email protected]