The dangers of living in the information age

It is not unusual for people to have a very active social media life nowadays. There are so many things you can share online: pictures of your pets, memes, pictures of yourself, your friends, your family and even your opinions. These things are all commonly shared on the internet by private users. But how much information is “too much” information?

We all recognize certain abuses of social media. Internet spaces that are meant to act as a platform for casual sharing have become something like a diary to some people. Individuals are far too comfortable with the amount of information they publicize about themselves on the internet. From private stories on Snapchat to using a “finsta” account on Instagram, these apps are used in ways vastly different from their intended purposes. 

Girls tend to be more guilty of oversharing on social media than guys are. Social media expert Laura Tierney, suggests that these trends “skew toward girls because of their need for peer approval.”

Georgia State sophomore Hermala Hailegabriel agrees.

“Finsta is typically used as a platform for girls to expose themselves,” Hailegabriel said. “It’s like they know not to post [certain things] on Instagram, but for some reason, it’s okay to post [them] on finsta.”

The idea behind these “secret” accounts is that you get to choose with whom you share your information, like an invite-only club or society, except the “club” in this equation refers to your innermost thoughts that you feel comfortable enough to share with a select group of individuals.

Because you get to decide who you trust enough to share things within this context, you feel safe to speak your mind freely. This may take form in a long-winded, ranting caption or a “storytime” via Snapchat.

Communication expert Lindsey Aloia says that “private information is a possession, and when it is shared, the person who receives the information becomes a co-owner. The original owner of the secret has expectations about how the information will be shared or used and often these rules are implicit.”

Once you publicize information to your followers, you have to operate under the assumption that the whole world can see what you’ve said or done. At that point, the information is not your own anymore. Yes, your handful of close-knit followers can see it as you intended, but who is stopping them from taking your information and sharing it beyond your inner circle? No one.

Of course, this phenomenon takes some more innocent forms as well. I’m looking at you, Snapchat vloggers and people who post the whole concert on your story. These people are mostly harmless at best and just obnoxious at worst. 

Regardless of how you choose to use social media, I implore you to take a look at your habits. Are you comfortable with the idea of anything that you post going viral? If not, you may need to change reconsider your relationship to social media.