Oversharing On The Internet. The Digital Love and Loss

Hafiz Rahman S.
Founder of Eyerys

The internet is indeed a great big thing. It enables us to get information that is otherwise difficult, it eases communication, transactions and business, helps numerous research and in overall, enhancing the lives we all live in. But what makes the internet a scary place to be is it's nature of being uncontrollable. Anything can be on the web, from the very good to the very bad.

When the internet thrives because people are actively populating it with new things, oversharing is what makes people vulnerable.

On the surface, the internet itself is nothing without people. The contents inside it, and everything that involves within it, are created by active beings that love to share their thoughts, ideas, feelings, loves, lusts, hates, and pretty much all feelings a human has. With that much to share, the limit is none, and this makes the internet a place where everything from the ordered to the cluttered exist.

Beside having your own website and blog, a system in which you have the most control, the internet is also populated with e-commerce entities, businesses, brands, the governments to internet services and social media networks.

Out of the total internet users, more than 50 percent of them are those with ages between 18-35. These people are the most active, and potentially share too much about their personal thoughts and experiences. From that many people, more than half of them are regretting the things they share.

Teenagers and many young adults overwhelmingly believe that others have no sense of personal privacy and are willing to post anything and everything about their lives. But in fact, they're doing the exact same thing unconsciously.

While most shared information are good news. An increasing number of people are also sharing bad news on their websites/blogs and on social media networks. A rising number of people are confessing that they accept "friend requests" from people they don't know.

An Addiction To Rewards

When it comes to posting things on the internet, everyone is susceptible to oversharing. In most cases, it all starts from an empty box on websites/blogs, comment dialogues, and social media sites. Blank boxes and empty fields are somehow alluring.

There are many types of internet users. From the habitual users, casual users to addicts. You may know someone who kept their eyes glued to their smartphones sharing everything that happens, some even take private conversation to the public internet only for fun. They do this just to make themselves heard; seen; to exist; to be rewarded; they hunger for likes, retweets, hearts; they want to be somebody that is not what they really are; they want to be perfect. More and more people are doing almost anything for the sake of those.

Even some people in the government to criminals can't resist the urge to say something to the web - saying things that are inappropriate whatever the reason is. They want to be their own "personal brands".

These people are oversharers. They comprise a certain percentage of the population that either doesn't know what they're doing, or couldn't consider what are inappropriate to divulge - or simply put, some people just don't care.

Oversharers are those that have followers and fans. They love to share about anything because they know that this will please them. They harvest likes and comments, the more the happier. But if theyre not garnering any followers or fans, their posts are not commented nor liked. Won't they stay quiet? Most likely yes. People overshare because they know that people are seeing. When nobody out there is expecting your post, there is no point (benefit) of posting or oversharing.

The resulting disinhibition can lead many to conclude that they are able to express their "true self" better online than they ever could do in face-to-face contexts. Since the "true self" between each individuals varies, the self-revelations in whatever the way they use, do aid their self-reflexive applications.

Researchers have found that the act of sharing is able to activate the brain's neurochemical reward system. So the bigger the reward, the more you will continue sharing.

The feedback you can get from friends, family members, acquaintances, to even strangers. Those provide continual criticism and validation, forging an alter ego and personal identity. Every being on the web is generally considered collaborating to make others overshare.

To achieve a similar state on the real-world, it involves a lot more work. For example, in a face-to-face conversation, you need to use more mental energy just to manage other's impressions toward you. You want to look smart, funny, interesting and great. It requires a lot of efforts, leaving the brain less power to filter what to say and how to deliver.

On the web, people can hide behind the screen, and able to express more without boundaries. The web itself in overall, entices us to expose information that we probably wouldn't otherwise.

As more people are becoming active on the internet, they're closing themselves from reality, from the real-life problems they have the addiction they feel, the pain and regrets they endure. Their relationship to the internet, to internet services and especially to social media networks, are gradually creating a more complex idea of who they think they are as an individual.

With the internet and all of its services that people use, their constructing new identities in a manner that has never before possible.

Being addicted and oversharing, is like looking to the screen and not face-to-face with someone, but loves the fun, love and guilt felt in it. We love how those buttons work, we love how fast people are responding to our posts, we love the likes people are giving, our heart is fill with joy when reading the comments people are spending time in writing.

The more we're engaged, the deeper we fall into the trap of oversharing. Because there are times when things aren't interesting enough to share with your followers and fans, your mind can even make up something up from something non-existence to exist just for that purpose. If you're something that's similar to that, you may welcome yourself to the web's addicted.

Behind The "Free" Internet

The internet and the web is growing. And what made them grow is their active users. How can the internet get that much users in such a small amount of time? The answer is because it's free. Most of the internet is exposed as long as you have an internet connection and the device to connect to it. With the devices that are becoming cheaper and more reliable, more people can access the web with ease.

What makes many parts of the internet free? If you use Google a lot, you'll know that most of the web's information is just a few clicks/taps away. If you are a frequent social media networks user, you'll know that people are sharing more than they need. But what makes them all free for you to enjoy?

The internet started as a project to connect to nodes (computers). When people were able to initiate the connection, more nodes are created. And to manage them all, servers were launched to keep everything online.

Servers and the web that runs on it, use resources. With that many resources to spend, and that many man power to manage them, there must be a return of investment. Where do that come from?

They come from brands. They come from almost anything that wants to put their money on the table. The more they spend, the more things are going up online for free.

Most if not all internet businesses that offer their services for free, depend heavily on those people that pay. As a trade to exposing and promoting them online, these companies are getting the money and resources they need to run the business. And in the fast-paced digital sphere, advertisements are not just mere advertisements. Many of them are targeted and shown uniquely to you because those internet services think you'll be interested in them.

How can they target those ads since they never know you? Targeted ads use a system that gathers everything you have online. From the things you posted willingly (name, email, birth date, hobby, online habits and many more), to things other relate to you (tag posts, mentions and others) and anything they can get their hands on. Despite written in their policy, there is no saying how much they can gather without even themselves knowing the exact detailed information. It's all controlled by their system automatically, and all the things you have online, are made to relate to you.

These are the things that made internet companies such a potential resources to the government. From the NSA to the FBI, and many other government officials coming from other entities are hoping and depending on internet companies to provide them information about the person they want to know.

Oversharing will make you vulnerable. Personal information in good hands may not be much of a concern. But when if that information falls to the wrong hands, there is no saying what they will do with it.

The Urge For Desire

Although the number of those people are increasing, of course, these are all just a perception. In other words, it's not that everyone are willing to bare everything online; it's that those who do typically post more status updates and garner more exposure, are those that are in concern.

While culture, demography, psychology and other terms affect how someone sees and abuse the web, the internet is global. Something that is a taboo for someone in one part of the world, can just be a usual occurrence in other countries. As that happen, internet users should be able to filter those information to see and digest what's appropriate to their current being, and what's not.

Oversharing on the web is like an exhibitionism online. It's creating a tension between privacy and exposing yourself as if you're a potential celebrity. To some people, the feeling of being popular eliminates common sense.

People like to become cool and great on the web. As a start, they tend to post inappropriate content and portray an image that would be considered sexually appealing, wild, or offensive. In other words, they want everyone to think they're awesome.

When people are criticized when they overshare, no one says anything about undersharing. Those people are considered 'boring'.

Be Safe, Create Boundaries

To be safe on the web, as either a user or a viewer, you need to separate what's private and what's proper to public. This will create a boundary in which disintegrates oversharing.

At some point, oversharing does make you popular among your followers and fans. Since they hunger to know more about you, the more you post the more they love. However, there's a limit into what's appropriate and what's not. Not everyone wants to hear something they don't expect.

In the viral nature of the web, something you can't control that spreads, is what makes you vulnerable. If the good things of you go viral, that's probably what you're expecting. But if the bad things of you spread like wildfire, how can you stop the ongoing pressure?

Being vulnerable on the web means that you're more prone to attacks. It can be email spams, attempted scams, account hacks, etc.. It can also travel from the internet to real-life, affecting how you life will be.

Being exposed to strangers on the web is a norm, and it can be the thing you really aim. But being vulnerable while exposed? That may not be your goal. So if you do want to create your "personal brand", be aware of the limit. People can be anyone but themselves on the web, never put your trust to the fullest.