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The Plague of Oversharing

As a blogger, I’m aware that sometimes people tend to overshare on social media. What constitute oversharing can vary depending upon who’s talking. There are some things people may think of as oversharing that the poster is posting in an attempt to help someone else who might be going through the same trials in their lives. So where do we draw the line, and how do we stop damaging relationships and reputations with our post/publish/tweet/send buttons?

This issue has come to my attention again in a couple different ways, one in my own life and one in the life of a friend on a social media site. This friend decided to post about a situation between her and her husband that was going on at the time. My first thought upon reading the back and forth was, “No! Why are you posting this?” The situation did seem to require that she reach out to someone for help and not just go to a corner and pray about it, but I didn’t think social media was the place to reach those people. Now you have people who aren’t close to you or your relationship now knowing the intimate details of it. I am praying for her and the situation, but I also feel like I should know NOTHING about the situation. I’m not close enough to physically be there and help, nor do I have any knowledge of their relationship or marriage that would qualify me to do anything but pray about it, yet here I am knowing about it. I feel uncomfortable knowing about it, too.

Mr. Perfect and I had a discussion about blogging recently where he asked me about another blogger that I follow. This particular blogger lives in our area, and he was saying how this person knows nothing about him, but he knows (through me) their name, their children’s names, their occupations, and some of what goes on in their marriages. How does this person’s spouse feel about this? I happen to know that this person has their spouse read everything they post before they post it and gives them veto power, but how many people are posting things that involve more than themselves and not consulting the other person? I know I’ve been guilty of airing frustrations or relaying conversations without asking permission to do so from the other party involved.

I once had to take down a post that people took the wrong way. I was in my last year of college, at a new school in a new state. I wasn’t on campus for long before I realized that the transition wasn’t going to go as smoothly as I thought. I was involved with a group back at my original college and was having problems getting paperwork sent to me from them. I wasn’t really able to connect with the group at my new school, either. So, as I usually did at that time, I wrote a post about how I felt a little caught in the middle. The group at my new school was livid! They felt that they had been portrayed unfairly (a friend at the time told me that it didn’t read that way to her, and she understood exactly what I was saying, but that’s beside the point) and wanted me to take it down, so I did. But the damage was already done. I never did join the local chapter of the group, I never did make connections with the group here, and in the end, it didn’t matter at all. I graduated and moved on in a few months.

There are often things that happen that I would love to rant about or share on social media, but that’s what prayer and a paper journal are for. Everyone can’t handle knowing everything about you; they just can’t. Everyone can’t give you good advice or offer support. Some people are gleefully awaiting an opportunity to read some unflattering things about you, to see that there’s trouble in your relationships or on your job. It’s becoming increasingly important to teach young people how to make decisions on what’s appropriate to share and with whom it’s appropriate to share it. Discretion and privacy management are going by the wayside.

This was not the post I intended to write when I sat down. I was intending to update you on all of the things that have been going on in my life since August, but I got sidetracked by a social media post that blindsided me. I’ll be back to tell you all about my adventures in writing, work, life and so on…

XOXO

Erica

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Getting Serious About: Social Media Part 2

There was something else about social media I wanted to address that I forgot to mention in the last post. Social media has a bigger influence on us than just who we follow and what we put on the page. The addition of features such as “favorites” “likes” “retweeting” and ads have expanded the reach of social media into even more areas of my life. There is a such thing as online peer pressure now; facebook will suggest pages for me to like, telling me which friends of mine have already liked it. Even if I follow a select amount of people carefully chosen to influence me positively, there are still featured posts and promoted tweets that make it into my timeline that I don’t follow or endorse.

The worse thing may be the ads. I can’t tell you how many times ads on Facebook have unsettled me. I could have just left off reading the Word and praying and have decided to be content in the season I am in, and here comes Facebook with an ad for Verragio engagement rings. I’ve just decided to trust God’s timing with when I’ll be finished with this book and should market it, and here will come the ads for how to publish your book. It’s like their in my head.

If I read the statuses of my friends and they are in a different season of life and appear to be so happy getting married and having babies, I can be discontent, but I also feel happy for them because I know them and their stories. But there are times when the statuses and the ads get to be too much. I read a post by a high school classmate who had gotten a three book deal. When we were in school together, her love was theater production, and still is. I was the writer; everyone knew that. But here she was doing what I wanted to do. I’ve seen someone on twitter that I don’t know personally write a Christian book for women that has sold tremendously, like I hope my book will. But I am not there yet. I’ve seen so many people, many of whom I thought I would have beaten to milestones get married, have children, advance in their careers, find success with their dream jobs, move forward, and instead of feeling joy, I just felt upset that it didn’t seem to be my time for anything, not one thing.

These are the times when no amount of unfriending and unfollowing will do. The ads will still pop up; strangers’ blogs will suddenly reference all of these things happening for them. The only thing to do at that point is to draw back from the social media rat race. Last year, I did a social media fast for a couple weeks. I felt like I couldn’t hear God through all of the information I took in from so many different sources online. I was so discontent and disappointed and disenchanted. I needed to get clear on my purpose and my focus. I needed to allow God to tell me where I was and why, and not everyone else. Whether they were inspirational or inspired me to jealousy, I backed away from them and read the Bible.

It was hard at first, but it got easier. I was able to see that I wasn’t where I wanted to be, nor had I put in all the work I need to put in, to be properly situated for the things I wanted. It’s easy to forget that people aren’t posting every step of their journeys everyday of their lives online. You only see what they want you to know: when times are celebratory or things are happening that they may have been working on for years. You don’t always see when they argue with their spouses or are disappointed with their children.You don’t always see when they want to be alone and can’t get away from their families. You don’t see when the deadline is near and they have nothing to write about. We miss all of the sowing and are judging ourselves by the reaping, and it’s not fair to us.

There are days when I don’t write posts because I’m tired, it’s been a long day, and I have other things to do. Then there are days when I don’t feel like I have anything interesting or inspired to say. I have to keep up a certain high standard of posting. I have to know what people need to hear or are interested in so that I have something relevant to say. Blogging was supposed to be freeing, but if I give in to the pressure to try and gain followers and get views, it’s not freeing or fun anymore. I’m not serving my purpose in posting.

What am I saying? In addition to being cognizant of who we follow and what we put out for public consumption, be cognizant of the feelings provoked by ads. Realize that you are seeing what one twitter user calls the “highlight reel” of someone’s life, not the dailies. When it gets to influencing you to much or you see yourself compromising your character, withdraw from it. Put some distance between you and negative influences and renew your strength. Control the flow of information.

That’s my two cents, anyway. Feel free to leave yours in the comment section.

Erica

Note: this wasn’t the post I was supposed to be writing today, but I wanted to finish my thoughts on social media before moving on. The real post is still in the works.

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Getting Serious About: Social Media

I said in a previous post that people we friend on Facebook, follow on twitter, or follow their blogs are in a unique position to influence us. It used to be that we were only influenced by our friends, but in the digital age, we can have “friends” across the globe. We can follow celebrities and see for ourselves exactly how they are feeling and what they are doing. With the diluge of information we are exposed to, it is easier to believe that individual things we read or follow are inconsequential, but this is not the case.

The main thing that brought this issue to the forefront for me was the announcement of Janet Jackson’s wedding this week. In this world of the overshare, Janet Jackson has always managed to keep her private life private. Janet Jackson could be 11 kinds of crazy, be into all sorts of weird things, and we would never know it. I don’t know if she practices any religion or any other personal details that haven’t been carefully run by a publicist before sharing. I may not agree with some of the things I do know about her lifestyle, but it would be hard to accuse her of being too forthcoming.

Between what we allow ourselves to be exposed to and influenced by in social media, and what we put on social media to be scrutinized by others, I see many pitfalls and opportunities to be pulled off track if one is trying to get serious about their lives. Associations are king in our society. The saying has been for years “it’s not what you know but who you know.” If you want to get serious about your life, whether career-wise, relationship-wise, in your Christian walk, or otherwise, you will need to get a hold on your social media associations.

We all know that employers check facebook, LinkedIn, and other accounts to evaluate candidates. Most people have taken off incriminating pictures or set their profiles to private to combat this. We are aware that many relationships have been negatively impacted by Facebook statuses, a relationship status on Facebook, a tweet or Instagram pictures, whether they be friendships or romantic relationships. We can see the influences, but yet, so many of us can’t seem to grasp the delicate balance between being open and telling things that should be kept private, between sowing seeds in our conscience through social media associations and our feelings or actions. So how do you balance interacting with friends through social media and putting your best digital foot forward?

I have three friends who have recently gotten married. They run the range from putting every detail of their lives on Facebook to only updating occasionally. One went from in a relationship to changing her profile picture to one of her walking down the aisle on her father’s arm. One sent out a facebook message as I sat waiting for her to walk down the aisle. One only posted when she got engaged, a week before, and the day of the wedding. Neither of this is inherently wrong. Where we draw the line depends on what we hope to accomplish.

The first thing to note is that anything we put out for public consumption is subject to be scrutinized and judged. Whether you ask for it or not, you are subject to outside input on anything that you share. Furthermore, it’s hard for love not to keep a record of wrongs if you have documented those wrongs on Facebook, Twitter, and everywhere else. It is the social media age’s equivalent of telling your friends all about your relationship; they will still be mad when the two of you have smoothed it over. Don’t say you don’t want people in your relationship if you are volunteering information about it for people to judge. Find someone you can trust, and who may be able to help, and talk to them about it, not the world.

The second thing is to make sure whatever you post or share is in line with your beliefs and the life you want to live for Christ. We are to avoid the appearance of evil; it shouldn’t even look like it might be sinful. I shouldn’t be holding bottles of alcohol, wearing revealing clothes, smoking, or “dropping it low” in pictures on any profile I maintain. I shouldn’t have derogatory language all over said profile, either. I shouldn’t reserve all my sanctity and holiness for Sunday when the whole week could use some.

When we are deciding who to follow or befriend, it is important for us to see the influence they can have on our lives. Am I following them because they say mean things about other people that I find funny? Am I following them to be envious and/or judgmental about what’s going on in their lives? Is this association helping or hindering me in pursuing the life I want to live?

I’m not saying that you can’t follow anyone who you find funny or interesting. I’m not saying you can only follow people who say “praise Jesus” at the end of everything. I’m saying that evil communications (or associations) still corrupt good morals. The universal laws that God put in place have not changed. We can’t say we aren’t being influenced by pop culture or media if all we do is consume hours of negative and sinful images and messages and don’t consume any of God’s word. I’m all for enjoying your life and having fun, but choose your associations wisely.

Are there any associations you need to let go of or cultivate? How has social media influenced your attitude and actions?

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Time Wasted!

I think I may be drunk on free time with this whole experience. It’s kind of remarkable what I’ve been able to focus on and do in the nearly two weeks without social networking. I made a doctor’s appointment, which will be this Thursday, and I got copies of all three of my credit reports for free from annualcreditreport.com. I’ve been to the gym a couple times and out on the trail again. I bought new shoes for exercising (OK–MH bought me new shoes for exercising). I’ve been writing and reading. I cleaned up a beach with my co-workers (a beautiful beach in Ponce Inlet). I’ve survived meetings at work.

That last one may not sound like it fits, but the thing is, I’m not very involved in the office meetings. I’ve been encouraged to bring a book or something to do until they need me. I usually have my phone and do a quick check of Facebook or Twitter, or I read blogs from my Google reader. I’ve been through three meetings so far, but today is the real test: the full day of meetings. I have to make sure I’m prepared with a good book, a notebook to write in, and other non-social media related things to do, like maybe a puzzle book. Wish me luck.

Now that this challenge is almost over, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I have definitely brought the focus back to me–from my health, to my finances, to where I want to live when my lease is up, to concentrating at work. I’ve freed up a lot of time to write and read. I finally watched things I’ve been meaning to watch. I got new pillows. It’s been a great run. The trick will be to continue leading a balanced life once 12:01am Friday signals the end of my two weeks sans social networking, to continue to focus on my own journey and not spend so much time comparing myself to others.

I’m so excited my doctor’s appointment falls before the end of the two weeks. I get to ask about the problems I’ve been having physically when I run and get a professional answer instead of scouring the interwebs. I get to have an answer other than to try and push myself anyway. Pray for a clean bill of health for me, or some proactive steps towards one.

More later…

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Things to Do When You’re Not Social Networking

My name is ***, and I’m a social network-aholic. It’s been six days since my last tweet, facebook post, and google reader check. You may be wondering what I’ve been up to and how I’ve been fairing. You may even be wondering what I’m learning from all of this.

For one thing, I’m learning to do things with my time other than check social networking sites. I went to the gym yesterday and the day before to try new classes like I planned to do. I have written on my memoir and watched movies. I have read most of my library books. I have been a lot more productive than usual.

I’m also finding that while my opportunities to compare myself with other people have been reduced significantly, there are still plenty of opportunities for comparison. I saw two people I work with while I was at the gym yesterday–both very skinny ladies with no stomachs. Neither was in class with me, but I had the urge to compare. I shrugged it aside.

The gym is a place so ripe for comparisons to be made. It is a place where competitiveness is tacitly encouraged. From what kind of workout gear someone is wearing to how good their form is, there’s always something to evaluate. Being in this competitive environment, you would think that I would be struggling more with comparisons. But I have been in classes where I have to focus on myself and push myself. I have to get out of my own way. Even if all I can focus on is what hurts or what jiggles, I’m working on keeping the focus on me.

That’s not to say it’s all been sunshine and puppies. I’m trying to break the habits of years here; a few days is a drop in the bucket. I still have to override my natural tendency to negative thinking and comparison. But I’m working on it, not just wishing it would be different.

I’m making a to be read list of books I want to read. I am making headway on my fitness initiatives. I am writing again. I occasionally want to check and see what is happening with other people, and I want to post about all the things I’m able to notice now that I’m not so busy comparing myself to others, but I feel like a Vivian Green song:

I like it, but I don’t need it. ‘Cause I like it don’t mean I need it.

What I’m learning from all of this is that my own journey is pretty interesting, at least to me. There are things I can actually do to move forward if I take the time to do them. I don’t have to do the same old things every single day and wish for something to happen to change my life. I can do it, a little at a time.

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The Love Chronicles Interlude: Honesty Box

I’m sure you all have heard by now that Facebook is breaking up happy homes all across the land and country. The argument is that Facebook provides you with easy access to everyone from your high school sweetheart to the stripper you hired for a friend’s bachelor party to the random guy who lived in your dorm or had Statistics with you. Whenever you’re feeling discontented with your relationship, you can hop on Facebook and see if you’ve “still got it” so to speak by chatting it up with one of your 800 friends. The one thing I hadn’t counted on was the honesty box.

You may remember the honesty box. It was all the rage a couple of years ago on Facebook. With this app, you could leave anonymous messages for someone. It evolved to the point where  your honesty box could ask a specific question, and eventually to the point where you could “pay” (using points, I believe) to find out who the anonymous sender was.

I didn’t think too much about the responses that I got to my honesty box questions until I got a message that said this guy (Anon.) thought I was beautiful and he had a crush on me. He went on to add a but–a big but. What was the but?

I was busily racking my brain over the first part of this message when the second part filtered through:but I am married and happy.” Umm, what? At the time, I knew quite a few people who were married, but no one I would think had a crush on me. To be honest, I couldn’t think of anyone, married or not, that had a crush on me since that one guy in the fifth grade (which is a whole other Love Chronicles installation :D).

Now it was bothering me. Never mind that he (whoever he was) was married and happy, and I was in a long term relationship. I didn’t want to date him; I just wanted to know who it was. You can’t leave a comment like that and then go on about your life!

Which isn’t exactly true. I’d done it more than once. I’d told guys I had crushes on them through their honest box. I told them how great their bodies were, etc. I never revealed who I was either. I’m sure there are a few guys out there who were scratching their heads trying to figure out who was behind that little pink bar expressing crushes and all manner of silliness.

I thought about if it would be worth it to offer some points in exchange for finding out that person’s identity. But then I thought: do I really want to know? I mean, what if it had truly been a missed opportunity, someone I had really liked? Knowing that wouldn’t make it any less missed. I was in a relationship that I really enjoyed and he was married. It was nice to hear that someone out there thought I was beautiful, but I already had someone to tell me that. Who knows what was going on in his household at that time, or what made him send  that honesty box message? Casual little things like that, when followed up on, can lead to some pretty bad consequences (broken homes/relationships, etc.).

I’m not trying to over-dramatize the situation or put more importance on it than it should have, but it does show that Facebook can be a slippery slope. In the end what did I end up saying to this message?

Wow, are you sure you have the right person? Wasn’t aware that anyone had a crush on me…but that’s a beautiful compliment. Thank you!

I didn’t try to find out who he was or say anything meaningful back other than a thank you. I believe that everything happens for a reason, in its time, according to God’s purpose. I don’t think there’s anything I’m missing. Mr. Perfect and I have a good relationship. I’d rather watch movies with him falling asleep (and swearing he isn’t) beside me than be whisked around the world by some other guy. I don’t know what the future will bring, and as they say “ain’t no ring on my finger,” but I’m not looking for anyone else. But I can take a compliment. 😉

I hope you enjoyed this little interlude, and that it gave you something to think about. How would you deal with an ex or crush contacting you on Facebook or any other social media? Have you reached out to an old flame on FB? How did it go? Do you believe facebook has anything to do with relationships failing? Leave your two cents in the comments section or email me at 2blu2btru4u[at]gmail[dot]com.

Up Next in The Love Chronicles: Cyrano de Bergerac

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Money, Manners, Media, Marriage, and Mayhem March!

The Social Network
Image via Wikipedia

Yes, you read that right and yes, it’s a lot. The thing is, I got so bogged down by the end of February after writing so many posts about romantic relationships and love, that I realized writing about just one specific thing, even if it had many facets, all month was very taxing. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed February’s posts (and I hope you did, too). What I didn’t enjoy was having to keep so many things for later because it didn’t fit with the theme for the month. Romantic and relationship posts and I need a mini vacation. That being said, I still have a recorder and notebook full of marriage kit interviews and a many more to schedule. So I can’t completely put them on the backburner (hence marriage in the title). But what about the other things?

Money is a favorite subject of mine with regards to relationships. I’ve used money as an analogy to talk about aspects of relationships, as well as raising the question of joint accounts/paying bills, and how important income is in a relationship, but there are so much more to be said about money. What about your relationship to your money? Are you a spender or a saver? The great debate of whether to pay down debt vs. building an emergency fund needs to be brought up. Are you financially fit for dating (I didn’t think of that…Good Housekeeping’s guide to marriage (1934, I believe) provided this as a consideration)? How much should you put down on a house? Etc.

I want to talk about the effect of media on relationships. I touched this briefly in the piece “We Used to Be More Than Facebook Friends,” but it was one tiny aspect of how media has an affect on our relationships. I want to talk about celebrity/fame, and the effect it has on both the celebrity and on those who follow celebrity news for trends, etc. Another area I want to touch is social media and the creation of celebrity. Social media has changed the way people are “discovered” and how stars manage their brand image (another favorite topic of mine).  You can make yourself a star now. Lastly, I want to talk about the effects of social media on relationships, both friendship and romantic. I want to look at friendship from both the people you actually know in real life as well as those made online. Is social media diluting our relationships–both friendship and romantic? Is it changing how we make friends? What has online dating done to change the way we select possible mates?

Manners. I’ve always loved learning about manners and etiquette (not that I have many ;-)) Being able to act appropriately in social situations, learning how to entertain colleagues of you or your spouse, writing an invitation or a thank you note, writing letters, seating charts, knowing how to give a welcome introduction are all enviable skills. Also, how do you network? How do you network with influential people you don’t necessarily like? Emily Post, Good Housekeeping, Southern Living, and cook books, here I we come!

Mayhem is the random fun that you all have enjoyed from me in the past. I am bringing back Things Mr. P. Doesn’t Know About Me (TMPDKAM), and Make it Like Poetry! I have been thinking of new TMPDKAM, and so far, I have five new ones thought up. People seem to enjoy those, so I’ve brought them back. I’m sure there’ll be other mayhem, but can you really plan for mayhem? 😀

The personal blog is going to be changing, too. I’m thinking of continuing Monday Meditations and Wednesday Wisdoms over there, as well as sharing playlists, reviewing exercise routines I’ve tried, asking for advice on certain lady things, and enjoying being me and talking about my life with no particular focus or purpose. Copywrite1985 continues to be about writing and reading, and 2blu2btru’s Reviews is going to be ramped up. I have a TON of reviews to upload, including reviews on The Social Network and the Blindside, as well as TV  and TV on DVD Obsessions such as In The Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman and Reaper. This month promises to be filled to the brim, no matter which of my blogs you choose to follow. 

March Madness has arrived! 

XOXO

2blu2btru

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Fallout

Leave it to social media to tell you exactly where you standa with individuals. I said that I would be fine with whatever response I received after letting it be known that I hadn’t agreed with some statements a friend made, and I stand behind the assertion. I just felt I should share how things stand at the moment, to follow through with the ark of the story.

This person actually never responded to me specifically. This is not breaking news, since the issues weren’t addressed with me to begin with. However, I was “unfriended/followed” after one of those, “I’m getting rid of some people from my life commentaries on a social networking site. ( Just so you know, I abhor statements of intent on FB, twitter, blogs…anywhere really; just do it already! Don’t threaten me (with a good time! lol…best line.))

What this lets me know is that the friendship was not a friendship or even an acquaintance for this person, but a brief cure for boredom & a well of fodder for their social media. To even say what was said violated a trust that was not mine. If said individual cared at all about our friendship, the effort to rectify the situation, to explain the rationale behind sharing that information, would have been forthcoming.

It was never my intention to make this blog into a place to bash someone I used to call friend, but I must admit I started a new blog because my old readership’s intermingling with my real life was causing problems, & this person played a part in that. I am looking forward to better clarifying what this space is about, and doing more of what I originally set out to do.