A friend of mine is having some minor surgery today. She has been posting updates on a site designed specifically for keeping friends and family informed about medical issues.
I find all this somewhat unsettling.
There was a time when things that happened in our lives were considered private. When people in general would have been horrified by the thought of something happening in our lives becoming public.
It was a price people paid for being famous, infamous or somehow in the public eye.
It was a *price* people paid. In other words, it was considered costly.
Nature knows that clouds capturing the colors of a sunset happens regardless of whether it is posted online - and it is beautiful.
Privacy was valued. Most people did not particularly want to be famous. And, even if you did, it did not involve the public accessibility many regular people either enjoy or abhor or just are oblivious to today.
By writing for a newspaper in the small town where I lived I became known around town. And, to this day, I cannot go anywhere in that town without engaging in a lengthy discussion.
There are lots of nice people but sometimes I really do just wanna be left alone.
Maybe this has something to do with growing up in Manhattan. All New Yorkers understand how to be alone yet together. We can tune out or tune in. People are always there ready to say hi or engage in conversation but it’s not rude to just put on your iPod and go for a walk.
One big difference between life in Manhattan and a place like Easton, Connecticut, is the stimulation.
In bucolic Easton there is abundant nature that can really take your breath away if you just let yourself enjoy it. But, in Manhattan there is hustle and bustle and endless mental and sensory stimulation.
When you’re in a place like New York City and surrounded by people who have something to say and do you’re not really reaching out for attention. It is everywhere.
But, when you’re in a place like Easton, Connecticut, and it is quiet and uninteresting apart from nature, you might – perhaps – need more attention.
For whatever reason, I just don’t understand why people need so much attention to the painfully personal, even intimate, details of their lives. And I certainly don’t get why they post these things ONLINE.
No matter the “privacy settings,” once you post something online it is public.
I used to think of it as a generational thing but now I see it as cross-generational.
Who knows why really. But, if it makes people feel better to make their extremely private issues public, then go for it. I do have to wonder though if they have thought ahead. And what might come back to bite them.
Once something is said, it cannot be unsaid. And once it is posted online, it could end up anywhere.
For the most part, I don’t think people care all that much about what is going on in other people’s lives. So, who are you really posting for? We all are looking for a connection and I do think people can connect to the written word (I hope).
But, I think posting personal details online gives people a false sense of intimacy with the masses. And makes it harder to remember why we reach out to one another in the first place.
I think it can fuel emotional unavailability by giving quick and easy fixes to people who really don’t – or can’t – manage one-on-one relationships.
We all want to feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. Whether it is a family, a community or a group of some type.
But, maybe, by posting such personal details online, it becomes a bit like opening yourself up to the same impersonal “news” we hear on television and radio. It is something we respond to but don’t particularly internalize.
Then, we breed emotional unavailability and disconnect.
Our worlds used to be a lot smaller. And, just like farmers who plant in small batches, maybe the quality is better that way.