By Erin Moyer II Opinions and Editorials Editor
Alright, F&M. One week soon, I promise I will write an op-ed about gender dynamics in the classroom. I promise, I will. I know all of my loyal readers have been dying for it, and of course I will deliver to my fans. But this week, another bee really got in my bonnet. And it seems especially pertinent to bring this up now, before all of us get off of our collective, Post-Valentine’s Day sugar high. I want to write about the information we share — and the information we shouldn’t share — on Facebook.
I should point out: no, this will not be a diatribe about privacy and staying safe online. I don’t really care if you stay safe online. You are an adult, that one is up to you. No, I want to talk about sharing far-too private information on Facebook and other social media. I want to talk about what we post, and why we post it. I want to talk about posting gratuitously, posting excessively, and posting the very personal for the public to see. And I want to talk about why gleefully bringing information that should be kept private out into the public sphere is a pretty harmful thing for your psyche.
The sort of posts I’m referring to (and by the way, I’m sorry to say that all of this will be focused on Facebook, as I literally understand no other form of social media) have been at an all-time high over this weekend of love. So it struck me as pressing to talk about our habit of oversharing now, when all of our newsfeeds are still packed with pictures of bouquets, debonair dates, delicious dinners, and romantic gestures.
And, just to clarify: no, I don’t really have a problem with a well-intentioned post. I don’t see anything wrong with two people who have had a great night, or who took a cute picture, or who went to the coolest restaurant, sharing that information with me. That is all well and fine. I get it. We’ve all been there. I’m glad you guys had a pleasant Valentine’s Day, and God bless us, everyone.
Here is what I dislike, though: I dislike when someone in a relationship tells me far too much about that relationship. I dislike when someone whose partner has gone out of their way too pull off something sweet and personal, takes a photo and shares it on Facebook. I dislike when meaningful, private gestures, however hilarious or thoughtful they may be, are shared and made public fodder to acquire likes. Because the truth is, that information, these moments, these gestures, should really be kept personal.
And this actually something very harmful about social media in general, I think. It gives us a forum to share anything we please. Just think about that. Yes, this forum can be great for sharing funny Internet things, or discussing pressing current events.
But Facebook is actually harmful in that it also gives us a forum for, well, us. It gives us a place, as we’ve never had it before, to document our lives and shape the way our lives appear. Yes, we can show Gran those Christmas pictures very easily now, and I agree, yes, technology is wonderful. But more worryingly, Facebook gives us a place to show others how cool we are. It gives us a space to put our private lives up for show into the public sphere. And too often, people mistake the two. Too often, people think they really should share personal details of their relationship on Facebook.
Go out and have a cool, fun relationship. Do whatever will make you happy. And share things about that relationship as you see fit, perhaps if something cute happens, or perhaps if you’re at this crazy, bursting level of happy and want to sound your joy from the rooftops and shit.
But here’s the thing, and here’s what I’m trying to say with this article: go out and have a cool, fun relationship for you. Don’t do it to show me, and don’t do it to post on Facebook. Don’t make your cool, fun relationship a spectacle. Don’t make your cool, fun relationship something to brag about and show off to other people, as proof that you yourself are cool, fun, very loved, and deserving of that love. Don’t let your relationship become a public thing that you use to assert how happy and cool and fun you are. For God’s sake, don’t turn that special moment into a Facebook post. Don’t make it something to everyone. Keep what’s between you and your partner, between you and your partner. Live your life for yourself, not as something to show other people. Because, time for some real talk: if you’re actually completely, blissfully secure in your happiness, then you probably shouldn’t need said happiness extrinsically validated, anyway.
So next time you go to post that one picture of that one magical moment, think about why you really want to share it. Is your heart singing, and you want the world to hear its sounding chorus? Do you two look really cute? Is your partner really wonderful? Does your dessert look really good? Or do you maybe, just maybe, want to prove what a wonderful person you are?