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Oversharing - Essay Example

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Oversharing William Shakespeare once famously wrote ‘All the world’s a stage’. While Shakespeare was not alive for the on-set of social media and the Digital Age, this statement is highly apt for these contemporary inventions. Increasingly during the 21st century individuals have engaged in sharing large aspects of their lives over the Internet…
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Oversharing William Shakespeare once famously wrote ‘All the world’s a stage’. While Shakespeare was not alive for the on-set of social media and the Digital Age, this statement is highly apt for these contemporary inventions. Increasingly during the 21st century individuals have engaged in sharing large aspects of their lives over the Internet. There are now specific social media platforms entirely devoted to sharing specific parts of one’s existence. Facebook operates as a sort of overarching platform. Instagram allows people to share photographs. Twitter collect individuals short and pithy statements. YouTube allows individuals to post amateur videos of any aspect of their lives. With the explosion of such sharing mediums, a number of prominent sociological questions arise. Erving Goffman suggested that we hold back our true selves when we interact (Smith 2006). Still, there social media platforms seem to pose a challenge to this statement. This essay examines whether social media allows individuals to increasingly share their true selves, and whether it is easier to ‘overshare’ in writing or face-to-face. In examining the nature of sharing it is necessary to ground the discussion in prominent sociological theories. In this way one of the most overarching perspectives on the issue is that which has been advanced in symbolic interactionism. Symbolic interactionism considers that individuals engage in symbolic social interactions as a means of constructing their reality (‘Symbolic interactionism’, 2010). While this most prominently involves family members, it is not difficult to see this extended to communication with peers (Blumer 1969). Other theorists have noted that "Most human and humanizing activity that people engage in is talking to each other" (Griffin 2006, p. 60).” The recognition in these regards is that sharing is fundamentally a human urge that is used to construct human reality. While humans engage in sharing as a means of constructing their reality it seems that when communication is mediated by computers there is the general tendency to share more information. Agger (2012) refers to this process as oversharing. While on the surface it may appear that social media allows people to increasingly share their true selves in reality this is more complex. In this way one considers that face-to-face communication contains many aspects of communication which are not possible in computer mediated communication. Even while video chat allows individuals the allusion of physical presence, it still falls short. In this way face-to-face communication contains modes of communication and intimacy that are not possible over the Internet. Following symbolic interactionism it is possible that the oversharing that occurs on the Internet is communication that is occurring as a means of compensating for the necessary mediation that occurs through the use of the Internet. In this way there is an essence to interaction that individuals are perpetually attempting to achieve through oversharing. In another sense it does seem that Internet communication increasingly allows individuals to share their true selves. In this way one considers the development of social media platforms has increasingly allowed individuals to locate others with similar interests. While in the past social interaction was entirely restricted to individuals in one’s immediate community, the Internet has increasingly allowed people to reach out throughout the globe. Another notable feature of the Internet is that rather than having to engage in pre-defined reality, it allows individuals to be more active and creative participants in their construction of reality. For instance, individuals choose who they allow onto their Facebook posts. They additionally are able to tailor their Twitter profiles and other similar access to social media content. Individuals are also able to search out and find groups of like-minded people; if one is interested in collecting shoes, sports cards, or even hair brushes there is undoubtedly a group of similar people to find on the Internet. In this way the Internet has allowed individuals more liberty in sharing their true selves with a receptive audience. Ultimately, it seems that oversharing is easier in writing or on the Internet than in face-to-face. While face-to-face communication carries with it increased levels of intimacy, communication mediated through writing or the Internet demands greater levels of sharing to achieve the same amount of symbolic interaction. Additionally, there is the recognition that the Internet allows individuals to creatively construct their reality, finding people with similar interests and world perspectives. In these ways oversharing on the Internet occurs because individuals are both more comfortable with their surroundings, as well as because they are attempting to gain a level of intimacy that is has been lost through the computer mediation. References Agger, B. (2012). Oversharing: presentations of the self in the internet age. New York: Routledge. Blumer, H. (1969) Symbolic Interactionism; Perspective and Method. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall Griffin, A. (2006). A First Look at Communication Theory. Boston: McGraw-Hill. Smith, G (2006). Erving Goffman. Hoboken: Routledge. Symbolic interactionism. (2010). Retrieved from http://hhd.csun.edu/hillwilliams/Symbolic Interactionism Lecture.htm Read More
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