In-person, it’s easy to distinguish your social identity from your family and professional identities, but online, maintaining and changing your privacy settings for every status update, photo share, video upload, and blog post is a daunting task.
In 2012 Facebook hit its billionth user, meaning that more moms, dads, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are trying to be “friends” with the younger generations of their family. In 2012 I began down the slippery slope of a digital social world blur—first, I accepted a friend request from my mother, then I added my grandmother. As I began adding these new “friends” I also began to closer moderate what I would say in a status update.
This change in my update style made me think of a communications class that I took while I was an undergrad at San Jose State. In this course, I was introduced to the concept of social worlds— a social group with which one identifies (i.e. a family unit, peers, a sports team, etc.). I realized that, as I began to add more “friends” from across my different social worlds, I would have to carefully moderate the content and information that I shared.
The information that I shared in the “About” section of my profile quickly became the area that I was most fearful of sharing. In most of my social worlds, I am an openly gay man, but in my Facebook social world, I quickly removed my “Interested In” answer when I received a friend request from my nephew. I also began to delete comments from friends that I felt might “out” me to him. Shortly thereafter I began to feel as though my social worlds had entrapped me on Facebook in a social-digital divide.
My feelings of a social-digital entrapment widened when I began to make professional connections through Facebook. From the time I added my first professional “friend” I realized that the Facebook that I had grown to love was ruined. I could no longer privately vent my emotions without an overwhelming fear that I had forgotten to correctly set my privacy settings.
Over the past several months I have realized that this fear is has expanded well beyond Facebook. I now carefully moderate any content I share, be it on YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even here on my blog. Some people might even be reading this and finding out some rather personal information about me, hopefully with respect rather than resentment. And for those looking for a quick and effective way to buy tiktok followers cheap, they can follow this link here.
This digital “death” of social worlds seems to be the (unfortunate) future of a once personal webosphere. Gone are the olden days where I could share a blog on Myspace, revealing my most personal emotions—which I did multiple times as a teenager.
Fear not, for I do believe that there are some benefits in this life-after-death. In fact, I have compiled this shortlist of benefits:
A closer connection to my “six degrees”
In Six Degrees of Separation, the 1993 Will Smith film, I learned of the theory that everyone in the world is connected by up to the sixth degree. Here in 2013, even as the population grows, I believe that the Internet’s blur of social worlds is evolving this concept and bringing the world population closer together.
A better understanding of the content people want
Whether I post a status update that gets one like or 100, I am constantly conducting a psychological experiment and gaining insights into the content that my friends and followers enjoy. I will often share a social update and wait five minutes to see if anybody engages with it. If nobody likes, comments, shares, or retweets it then I make a mental note of the type of content I am sharing—I may even delete it. On the other hand, if the update does receive any type of social engagement then I make a mental note of the positive or negative sentiment it receives.