Overexcited or Oversharing: The Facebook Debate

How would you characterize your use of Facebook? Are you the type that posts a status update at five-minute intervals? Do you “like” and comment on everything you see? Do you hold heated political debates with your in-laws? Or are you a minimalist, observing everyone else and making posts infrequently? I’m calling this the Facebook debate because let’s face it, we all use Facebook differently.

While those are only just a few of many examples, I would put myself in the last group. I rarely post in my status bar, I seldom put up photos and I comment on things every so often. I’m beginning to see I’m in the minority when it comes to my activity on the social networking site.

No matter who your friend base is, you will always have a few (or several) friends that post countless updates about daily occurrences. Amanda just finished brushing her teeth, while Bob spent his morning knocking out 100 push-ups, 30 pull-ups, 40 air squats and a 1.5-mile run as part of his CrossFit exercise circuit.

In January 2012, I posted a Facebook rant about all the grand things I did during the past few months. I did this to drive home the point that I don’t need to constantly update my status to prove that I’m living life. The response from my friends was half and half. Half of them agreed with the lost art of subtly, while the other half felt I was being bitter and not letting people express their excitement to their friend base.

Granted, no matter how many examples you mention, there are always exceptions to everything. Some people post several updates a day, but they’re sharing news stories or the status of an ill loved one. Then you have some who want to make sure you know how much they spent on their bar tab or how damn good their dinner from their sweetie was.

My question to this audience is where do we draw the line? How do we know if we’re overexcited or if we’re oversharing? Furthermore, why do we post these frequent updates in the first place? What is the rationale?

Pardon me for a second. I’m just going to put my can opener back in place.

Whatever happened to the art of subtly?
That’s something you rarely see on Facebook. It’s like a lost art form. Today, people want to feel important, and they want you to know just how important, interesting, wonderful, insert any adjective here, they are. Above all, they want you to see their lives and wish yours was just as pleasant.

Why else are we posting our feet in the foreground of a beach or the view from our hotel? Why else do we cry out for attention when we’re sad or hurt? And people wonder why these studies come to these conclusions.

I’m not naïve to think that this “bragger” mentality didn’t occur when the Internet wasn’t around. In fact, it probably stretches back to the dawn of mankind, with everyone feeling the need to “keep up with the Joneses.” It’s just that now we have a platform where we can express our excitement or overshare every detail possible.

That’s why I adore the subtle approach when it comes to Facebook. I went to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas, Texas; sat near the front row at several concerts, won $250 in a Monopoly contest at Pick N’ Save, went to every Brewers postseason game in 2011, and won the rights to meet Brewers pitcher John Axford thanks to a Twitter contest. Can you guess what I did on Facebook to mark these occasions? Not a whole lot. I checked in at the Super Bowl the day of, just for kicks, and posted pictures of the other events well after the fact. Sure, I was excited for all these events, but I didn’t feel the need to update my status. If I wanted to share this news with anyone, I picked up the phone, and gave them a call.

I don’t consider myself old fashioned; I simply enjoy human interaction, and I feel Facebook is more of an isolator than a social experience. It’s great for sending off a quick message to someone or reconnecting with an old friend, but once you’ve made the connection, the payoff is greater sitting down with someone and soaked up the experience.
Again, I know there are exceptions to everything, and some people can’t interact with someone in person if they are living overseas. I get that. What I don’t understand is the need for people to say, “Look at me. Look what I’m doing.” If the old adage is true, then those who are speaking the loudest about how great their life is are likely masking the fact that their lives aren’t as glamorous as they appear. On the other hand, maybe those who are quieter on Facebook are the ones actually living.

Then you have some that say, “If it’s not on Facebook, then it’s not official.” Not really. We are our own personal gatekeepers, and we choose what to share with the world. Some choose to do it in a public forum, while others share it with those they care about outside of the digital realm.

There really is no right or wrong way to use Facebook. The question is where do you draw the line? What is bragging? What is oversharing? What is being overexcited? Like writing, it’s all subjective.