Monday, May 8, 2017

The Burdens of Oversharing




There are times in life when the last thing you want to do is share or reveal anything about yourself. Possibly there are a few true-blue egoists out there who may never feel this way but I think most of us know this feeling and make it a point to retract ourselves in one way or another. As this blog attests, I am one type of self-inflicted over sharer and even though I don't really reveal a lot about myself (my true self), it’s still a lot, like way too much.  It’s like holding a mirror to refract light trying to distract people but you are still acting the fool by holding a mirror up at all.

Regardless, it’s tiring and a bit cringe when dissected. I have been thinking about this more because I have started new projects that do even more oversharing and when I sat to write this thing today I couldn’t help but think, ‘who the fuck cares,’ and ‘I’m tired of me, everyone else must be tired of me.’ This impulse to share is a strange but seemingly unavoidable thing about our social condition. We are all so tired of presenting ourselves but yet we keep doing it. It’s as if we need to, and perhaps in some ways we do.

So everyone probably reading this has some sort of social media account. Multiple probably. On one or the other platform there is a tone and presentation of self that one ‘gives’ or ‘allows’ others to see. The concept of the edit in structuring one’s projected self is just wild these days in its control and impact. The idea of being seen and perceived is as old as time though, possibly innate to being a human. We dress a certain way, walk and talk certain way, in order to cue who we are in the world or who we want to be seen as.

All this reflects one’s history, curiosities, fascinations and comforts but it is also essentially about the audience. We want to be both lauded and accepted and to be ‘recognized’ for the self we think we are and/or want to be. Life is certainly a stage but now this audience is virtually expanded via the Internet and social sharing platforms. Words and images are the cache of signifying who/what/where/how you are who you are and how we want others to perceive the story of ourselves. We want whatever life we live, or wish to live to be witnessed, confirmed and thus made real somehow.

But how really real is it all? How much time goes, consciously or unconsciously, into performing or acting out this person you want others to perceive? If there isn’t a pic, did it not happen? If you don’t get likes or reactions to it, did it matter? Are you sitting there taking selfie after selfie trying to look casual or spontaneous when it is anything but?

There are extremes of every behavior and to be able to balance reality vs. fictive reality can co-exist but regardless, if you do share your ‘life’ to the world, there is always this edit. The act of editing acts to protect oneself but also to control the gaze and the spectator. This is all so obvious but I’ve been thinking about how this has become so ubiquitous that it’s normative and that’s what makes may hair stand on end. Normality of this type of impulse and way of connecting with each other feels like some sort of edge of a cliff.

Let’s not all be lemmings and let’s all take a step back and realize that through all this sharing, are we negotiating other things that really matter. The way people talk to each other, hangout, have sex, build friendships, develop relationships long and short are all caught up in this now normalized impulse to share, edit, and present in this way.

It is not all bad of course. The internet is an amazing thing. But doesn’t it feel like sometimes it’s all just too much? That there is just too much of everything, even yourself? I’m not a luddite and I’m not one to ‘take a break’ from anything but yeah, too much is just too much sometimes.

But maybe it’s not the oversharing that gets me down but how most of what is being shared is so edited, so truncated, so manicured. I’d rather get a pile of realness then the slivers of someone’s edited presentation of self. I get it, it's a form of advertising, our exchange of our selves is literally the money in our pockets at times, but is it really worth it? As usual I'm being wishy-washy about this whole idea. I know I can’t have it both ways, but yeah, I know I’m a part of the problem too so here’s to hoping I either go all in and be for real-real or just fade the fuck away.