Sunday, October 14, 2012

Privacy and Sharing: How much is too much in a social world?

Have you ever had...

Political opinions
Someone sharing to the point of spamming your Facebook page with indignant, in-your-face opinions about their favorite political candidate and then not tolerating any opinion different from their own.

Tweet
Another person regularly peppering your Twitter feed with weight loss opportunities when you're the last person who wants or needs such things.

TMI
A couple's constant stream of syrupy, too intimate flirty comments make you nearly blush or want to wretch.

We all have. 

It's a complete turn off that leaves us questioning why we bother to wade through a sea of TMI or CUI (completely useless info) just to find some truly helpful stuff.

So what happened to their social sensor? How can they not see when too much is, well, too much?

Or is it?

This morning in Fred Wilson's newsletter he shared Public Sharing vs Private Sharing which got me thinking (again) about how much is TOO much and how much is NOT enough in social sharing. Wilson makes a great point about this. I've summed it up in my social share:

Something with which I struggle: How much is too much. This article offers good reasons for opening up. Learn. Connect. Public Sharing vs Private Sharing #social

Research does show that anonymity in sharing actually generates more "honest" discussion, but I think the trollers, who are like hecklers at a comedy show or political rally, kinda ruin it for some people because it feels contrived and unkind. Also people who overshare seem too be self-involved, insensitive to others, or emotionally stunted so your average person shies away from being thrown into that pile. Unfortunately in a social world we see too little from people who could actually generate useful, meaningful dialogue, and we see too much of some people who have narcissistic tendencies or poor filter control.

Beyond butterflies and rainbows (a nod to my friend Greg Dunbar)
I do think we create opportunities when we are more transparent. We can form new connections, generate dialogue, and learn just as Wilson did with his post about the art he saw. I take and post a ton of pictures in various social media sites like HipGeo, and while the pictures are nice and get a few "likes" I recognize I'm missing opportunities to expand the experience with owning what I don't know and asking questions for the things I'm curious about.

An example is the picture of the rainbow I took yesterday afternoon. I don't know that much about weather and rainbows, and if I'd added a question about that for the pic I took below, I might have learned a few things from my community. I didn't so while it's a lovely picture, the opportunity to deepen the experience by learning from my network was missed.

I've struggled with content and transparency here in my blog and other social media accounts. At first my posts were quite "in the moment," and then I went down a rabbit hole with focusing on behavior-based project management. I love the subject, but I don't want to write and share about it all the time.

The intent of this blog and my overall social experience was to take top-of-mind ideas, experiences, and questions and share my thoughts while hearing the thoughts of others. I was doing that to an extent and then I went too vertical. I'm a "T" shaped thinker (horizontal and vertical - see earlier post) so this didn't fit with my personal approach to information and design, and it wasn't honest to the point of creating the kind of dialogue I crave with others.

Social media networks are not replacements to our "first"life, but rather an extension of it that creates opportunities to learn, expand, and grow through the observations, knowledge, experiences, and insights of others. When used with purpose and thoughtfulness we deepen our awareness and create the opportunity to help others with what we and our connections know. We connect the dots to something far bigger than ourselves.

Sit on the edge of discomfort
Don't be afraid to open up a little. If you put something out there, be open to what you get back. When you share, ask questions - seek to understand, not to refute. Let your differences with others be opportunities for sharing perspective instead of taking up turfs.

You might just be surprised by the good you enjoy and create for others. Social media, when used well, can contribute to making the world a better place beyond butterflies and rainbows.

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