Living Life Online

Every time I click the little “Publish” button on this WordPress website, my writing zips through cyberspace and lands in various social media feeds – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Linkedin. It’s amazingly interconnected, and a fascinating psychological phenomenon to watch myself eagerly evaluate the stats on website visitation levels, clicks, and page views.

I have to ask myself, though, why it’s so much fun to engage in this kind of activity. Is it just a self-centered, Millennial-type thing to do? The ego boost of knowing that my words are being read, and receiving comments or feedback on articles, is addictive. I also sooth myself thinking that this aggressive social media platform (as gauged by the data yielded up from my online interactions) will assist me in locating a meaningful job in a world of high competition and august expectations from employers.

On the other hand, I feel two more positive reasons for writing blog posts which are shared immediately with all and sundry:

1) I enjoy the feeling of being social and of talking to people through online forums. In the past, online forums were regarded as separate from (and possibly negative for) life in offline worlds (Phil Ciciora, 2010). However, Dr. Caroline Haythornthwaite and Dr. Lori Kendall from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Illinois suggest that “online interactions not only have positive outcomes for real-life, place-based communities, but the intersection between online communication and the offline world also forms two halves of a support mechanism for communities” (Phil Ciciora, 2010).

2) I am a writer, and I love to write. The simple joy of writing about topics that interest me fuels this hobby of putting together blog posts and sharing them with the world. My primary aim has been to communicate with more people, rather than make a profit through blogging. And the conversation hasn’t just been one way; I have had the pleasure of people writing to me with ideas and feedback – one of the best feelings in the world.

In her article, Living Online: What I’ve Learned, Grace Bonney describes her cyclical understanding of the hyper-connected world in which she lives. In the early days, her online social sharing techniques resulted in negative feedback so she began to hide her ‘true’ self from the world, sharing only the positive elements of her experiences (Bonney, October 2013). With time, she began to differentiate between her public and her private life and took on the mantra “less is more” when it comes to online announcements (Bonney, October 2013). I especially agree with her assessment on public versus private sharing:

“While I sometimes wish I could share how special or meaningful a given moment was, no photo, status update or post could ever accurately reflect how special a moment in real-life is. And sometimes, it ruins it […]  sometimes it’s best to leave that moment in real life and let the online world appreciate the happiness and higher quality of work that comes from you taking a break and enjoying your life outside of the web world” (Bonney, October 2013).

So to all Millennial’s punch-drunk on sharing their every experience with the world – stop. Take a breath, and analyze why you’re doing what you do, and for whom you are doing it. Chances are that if you’re posting obsessively to create a falsified image of yourself, it’s not worth the time, stress, or moments taken away from real-life experiences (as well as the potentially negative impact on employers, as described by Allison M. Vaillancourt in her article here).

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