As social media has become a mainstay in our lives, we’ve become increasingly lax about what stays private. Things we once wouldn’t dream of putting on the internet have become the norm. Relationships are shared, break up announcements are made… It has become increasingly harder to decide where to draw the line.
On the one hand, it’s humanising: the more our favourite social media personalities and celebrities share online, the more we feel like we know them. The more we feel we know, the more invested we become. However, this also comes with a caveat. Suddenly, because we’re invested, we feel like we’re entitled to their whole story. The second they want to keep something to themselves, we take it personally. Nowadays, it feels like people are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, and I’ve wanted to put that in words for a while.
So… Introducing: the public/private dichotomy.
Share everything on social media, and you put your life up for criticism. Decide to keep things to yourself, and you’re attacked for your secrecy.
The world of social media influencing is so new, and so we haven’t quite figured out how to police it yet. We went from being told not to talk to any strangers on the internet to watching strangers vlog their daily lives. The openness is refreshing, and often I find myself drawn to people that I’m able to find more information about. But not everyone feels this way, and a lot of the time the internet is a mean place.
The second people share intimate details of their life, they open themselves up to intense scrutiny. It’s no longer just a matter of simple disagreement anymore… People turn things into memes, quote retweet images with mocking captions, or directly target people with negativity. If the subject of the negativity complains, they’re met with the mentality that by putting themselves out there “They knew what they signed up for”. We seem to punish people for wanting to be their true selves online, and I am no different. I can’t say that I’ve never scrolled through my Twitter feed and thought “Why on earth would you put that on the internet?!”
However, we then seem to do the same when people choose not to share. If a couple is open on the internet and then suddenly break-up, we feel entitled to know exactly what went wrong. We’ve become invested in a person’s life, and so we get offended when they suddenly try to keep things from us. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in it all and believe that we’re part of some random internet strangers life. In some way, yes we are; by viewing their content and contributing to their following we’re helping them make a living. However, that being said, we must remember one thing…
No matter how involved any celebrity or influencer makes us feel, and no matter how lovely they treat their viewers/fans, we are still the viewer, an external entity. It’s lovely if they decide to share aspects of their lives, but as an external entity, they don’t have to. And we have to accept that, even if we want to know every nitty gritty detail.
Finding a balance between your public and private persona is hard for everyone. The difference is that if I overshare to the 400 people on my personal Instagram account, it’s in no way as disastrous as a celebrity that overshares to their hundreds and thousands of followers. We need to be accepting of the fact that striking a balance takes time to master. Nobody’s perfect at it straight away and we all learn and grow. So, hopefully with time, the public/private dichotomy will disappear, and we’ll accept people as they are.
Hey, I'm Jasmine Burke. A girl in her twenties fresh out of Uni that's trying to write in any way that she can. I go under the branch of "lifestyle" but honestly, you can find pretty much anything on here.
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