I laugh at the phenomenon on sites like Twitter and Facebook where people have nothing of value to say, but will say something anyway. Of course, I won’t criticise too loudly because I sometimes do it too. There’s a sense of validity that comes from expressing a thought in a tangible way. It doesn’t have to be witnessed by anyone, but having it out in public often feels… good.
That’s not exhibitionism, is it? It’s not like I’ve made a point of doing it where others can’t help but look, or have I? For me, it feels like erecting a fence to mark the border of a property – like if people get to know me, they have a better understanding of my boundaries so it’s easier for us to get along. Maybe technically it could be considered exhibitionism because there’s an intent to exhibit a part of oneself.
When reading other people’s tweets and blogs, I’m interested mostly in 2 things – the feeling of “oh me too!” and the feeling of “how interesting!” Is this voyeuristic? (And would it be the flipside of being exhibitionistic?) I like the thought of someone out in internet land looking for those two feelings too, and maybe finding them on my blogs.
Some years ago, I blogged about a rough patch and spent a lot of time wondering if it was the right thing to do. It felt weird to share, and I had several unrelated conversations that leaned towards sharing being bad. But what kept me doing it was thinking of a friend on the other side of the world, who is like a younger sister to me, and who might be able to benefit from my mistakes. I didn’t know if she read my entries, but we had been mutually linking for a long time. Earlier this year I received a letter from her, saying that the things I had written did help her through some troubles in her own life. That was nice.
It was nice to learn that something I do for myself happens to be good for someone else too. And really validating to know that my thinking of her was the right thing to do. I don’t mean to romanticise this – it was probably just a lucky coincidence. I do get a lot out of blogging and this ‘social media’ thing – it’s more than noise and participation.
I try to make the things I share count for something, but you can’t always know whether it actually does. I could just as easily be part of the noise cluttering somebody’s feed.