Destinations Magazine

Are We Sharing Too Much?

By Russellvjward @russellvjward

To an outsider, we've become shareoholics. We're obsessed with sharing every detail of our lives, whether it might interest others or not.
If you've been on Facebook lately (and there's a slight chance you have), you'll be aware of pretty much everything your friends are up to - what they did at the weekend, where they went last night, the type of breakfast they had this morning. You'll know it all.
A friend recently welcomed her baby into the world. She celebrated the event on Facebook and we all revelled in the news. She posted images of the baby, of the hospital room, and of the arrival of her family at the hospital. Then her husband shared images of his family arriving at the hospital. Then a status update on the celebrations. Then she shared images of the gifts they'd received. Then he did the same. Then came the many "thank you" messages. Then details of the journey home.
I'd long ago switched off.
Now I'm no killjoy and as guilty as the next person at sharing my life on social media (read: The Day Social Media Took Over My Life), but I wondered if these weren't private moments for the two of them, their newborn, and immediate family. I also wondered if some of these "magical moments" weren't really moments to share at all, particularly over Facebook.

Are We Sharing Too Much?

Photo credit: misspixels (Flickr Creative Commons)

We all need to share
As a blogger and frequent traveller, I feel an obligation to share - it's my primary means of keeping followers up-to-date with this journey.
I share my writing through the blog and its Facebook page. I share my travel photography on Instagram. I'm active on Twitter and I post images on Pinterest from time to time. Sharing is a par for the course and I've accepted that this comes with the job, so to speak.
But I know when I've crossed a line, when the need to share my work has been replaced by a desire to share a mundane aspect of my life that I didn't really need to. Or when, in the rush to share, I missed savouring the moment itself.
I saw others suffering from this same affliction on my trip to Canada (read: Travelling Across Canada With The World's Best). We'd arrive at a destination and my colleagues would scurry off in different directions desperate to capture a unique angle resulting in a hundred "likes" on Instagram or Facebook.
It became something of a daily obsession.
How could we best frame an image on Instagram? Which platforms would we share the images through and at what times of the day in order to get the best reaction?  How many hashtags should we use and how could we take maximum advantage of the ability to bomb our followers' feeds on Facebook?
In the rush to capture and share a beautiful scene or object, we arguably missed the experience of seeing the object ourselves - spending time appreciating the beauty of it, taking it in, just looking at the thing.
But I got to share it with everyone else and that's all that matters, right?
It wasn't always this way
Once upon a time, life was different. Travel was different.
I think back to living in Ottawa and making a surprise visit to Chicago. It was my wife's birthday and I wanted to take her for a long weekend at the third largest city in the US, to stay in one of Chicago's impressive hotels, to wine and dine her in the best spots around this vast city, to have a brief respite from our regular life.
This was back in 2004 and Facebook was still in its infancy. Twitter was jut a twinkle in its founder's eye and Instagram was nowhere to be found. I didn't announce the trip, didn't post any pictures, and only immediate family knew where we were traveling to.
We spent the weekend as holidaymakers, just the two of us.
We hit traditional tourist spots and we ate at fancy restaurants. We took plenty of photos but we saved them until our return home. We gave each other our full attention and we didn't give a hoot whether others knew about or shared in our fun. To this day, I can vividly remember every detail of that weekend and this was nearly ten years ago.
There was no pinning, no stumbling, no sharing.
And now I watch friends and family, bloggers and 'grammers, living their lives through the wonders of social media and I wonder whether we've got too good at sharing too much.
Living in the moment
There's a danger that we're not actually living our lives.
We're living a life we want others to know about. We're promoting the best parts of our life, minus the warts n'all. We're missing precious moments because we're head down on our iPhones or we're taking pictures for the purposes of an online application rather than enjoying the sights, sounds and flavours around us.
It's a tough call.
We're hardwired to share. Facebook has become our "go-to" in momentous events and our first thought is often how many "likes" we'll get from sharing an update rather than whether we actually "like" what we see in front of us.
It's not all doom and gloom. Sharing is sociable, fun, and a great way to keep in touch with key events happening in the lives of our friends. What's more, choose a life overseas and it's probably the best way to ensure you're connected to loved ones - at least in spirit, if not in body.
But if your first thought is to reach for the iPhone to share something before you can sit back and soak it all in. Or if you're constantly online posting about the great time you're having, without actually being out there having that supposedly great time, then you have a serious obsession with sharing.
The question is whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Are we revealing too much of our lives online? Can you balance sharing with living in the moment? Where's the line between positive sharing and an obsession to tell the world about every little detail of our lives? 
Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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