Ashamed. It is one of my least favourite words not only for its literal meaning, but also for how it makes me feel. The thing about shame is that once you’ve felt it deeply, you will never again do what it is that made you feel that way in the first place.
A few days ago, a friend of mine gave me a hard time for posting a picture online of her family member (and rightfully so). This wasn’t just any friend, but a close friend who I respect and care about dearly. After our conversation, I had this awful feeling in my stomach like I had completely broken her trust and infringed upon her privacy.
Then it got me thinking, why am I sharing so much of my “life” on the Internet? And more importantly, what gives me the right to share the lives of other people online?
What it comes down to is consideration of others. With such public forums like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I think we (including myself) tend to lose sight of how our actions online will affect others, and not just in the short term, but over the long term. A few words and innocent photos can spread so quickly over the Internet, and in unexpected ways, yet we often don’t give such posts a second thought.
In terms of online activity, I can honestly say my intentions are good and genuine. I’m someone who loves photography and takes great joy in sharing photos online with friends and family. I also work in the communications industry, which makes it near impossible not to use social media in some form or another, as either a creative outlet or means for networking or sharing information. But in a digital world where nothing is private and everyone knows your business, it’s important to keep some things sacred and to recognize and respect the privacy of others.
A part of me is relieved that my friend got upset with me, otherwise I don’t know if I would have learned such an important lesson. Like a bucket of cold water in the face, that tough and somewhat uncomfortable conversation is exactly what I needed.
Since then, I’ve made the difficult decision to de-activate my Facebook account and spend as little time as possible on social media channels. As it stands, I rarely use Twitter and I post on Instagram sparingly. Even my blog (which you’re reading right now) is constructed with care and anonymity with the mention of specific people.
Hopefully my experience will encourage some of you to reflect upon your time online and how it impacts not only yourselves, but the people you care about.