What’s up with all the life sharing?

I don’t get Facebook. Yes, I understand the dynamic and its usage and all that; we used it here at The News and it is a useful tool for us.

I don’t get it as a share-everything-about-your-life tool. Again, I know you can limit what you post, who sees what, etc. And yes, I also know that many people have reconnected with friends from their youth.

Where I run into the big Why is, well, why (fill in the blank). Too general for you? Let me explain — and it might go round in circles a bit.

I’m pretty private about my life. I have several of what I would term close acquaintances. These are people I know who I can chat with and even spend time with if we run into each other. I only have a small group of real friends. I believe we all really have that same mix but most people blend the close acquaintances into the friends group. I guess the easiest way to describe it is: have or would you invite them over for dinner? Yes, friend; no, acquaintance.

Plus, most people are probably more socially inclined than me. I like to go out with friends from time to time, but I just prefer small groups where you can talk and laugh and not have to deal with a bunch of background noise from other conversations.

To me, friends are people I will share important and meaningful aspects of my life, and since I’m a private person that circle is mighty small. My sister, who I also call one of my best friends, doesn’t even know stuff about me. One time several years ago she told me she didn’t know I had dated a woman several years prior. Well, it was only a couple of dates, so I didn’t deem it too newsworthy. If the situation had been different I would have continued to try and date her and my sister probably would have known at that point.

So I go back to Facebook for a few minutes. If you are supposed to be friends with people shouldn’t they already know your relationship status? And, if you’re friends with them, why does your relationship status really matter?

How about vacation? You’ve reconnected with Joe Schmo from high school and shared photos and even learned a little bit about what has been going on with each other. How do you know he isn’t happy to see you go on vacation so he can rob you blind? Common sense says not to post photos while on vacation, but how many people post photos while on vacation on Facebook? I’m guessing millions.

And while we’re on the topic of vacation, are you rubbing it in to your friends that you are on vacation when they are working? To which I ask: what kind of person rubs in good fortune to make their friends feel bad? Or is it narcissism that you want everyone to know what you are doing?

OK, we’ll pause right here because I know what you’re saying: Well Murch, how do you know so much about Facebook if you aren’t on it?

I have a newsroom full of Facebook users who discuss it and their interactions on it. See, people even talk about what they do on Facebook. They’re sharing about their sharing … and perhaps sharing stuff intended only for friends.

Every once in a while I’ll give reporter Steve Schulwitz a hard time when I ask “how was your weekend?” and he proceeds to tell me what he did. He’s an actual friend, so I can tease him with “that’s not what I asked” and he knows. How, meaning, “good,” “busy” or something like that. If I want more details, I’ll ask.

But I think that’s a symptom of all the over-sharing that takes place on Facebook. I know about people who I’m not friends with because people share about what their “friends” on Facebook have posted. I just think some people can’t help themselves and feel the urge to share every detail about themselves.

I hear about the debates on Facebook and there is nothing worse than an argument or debate in the written word. Debates are about nuance and when you do it face to face you can see facial expressions, you can read body language and other cues to carry the conversation and you can tell when someone has set you up, or is setting you up, much easier.

Now all that being said, I wish I would have had some extra cash sitting around when Facebook went public so I could have purchased some shares. The underwriters set a price of $38 per share at its IPO, and after it dropped in value for a while to start, it has spent the nearly five years since climbing. It was at $150 per share mid-afternoon Friday, so it has gone up around $112 per share.

If you share on Facebook, I respect your decision to do so. When it comes to Facebook, I’ll just keep kicking myself for not having taken part in the IPO. And if I want people to know something about me I’ll just tell them face to face.

Steve Murch can be reached via email at smurch@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5686. Follow Steve on Twitter @sm_alpenanews.


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