My sister is in a constant competition with her friends to see who can get the most likes on their profile picture.
She tells people how many likes she has accumulated and whether she has broken her own record.
My sister is behaving according to plan.
When we post something — a photo, a status, a video — we’re looking for positive reinforcement, according to a New York Times article. For instance, people will tweet about a concert they’re at, and then others will retweet or favorite their tweet. Or my sister will post a profile picture on Facebook and count up the likes.
It’s like a digital, “Yes, that’s awesome.”
And we just love that.
Which explains those people you see who post about everything — fights with their significant other, an admission that they’re a virgin, or an update on their cat’s diarrhea. (Yes, I’ve seen my Facebook friends put all of these valuable nuggets of information online.) These people crave attention and positive reinforcement from others, so they’re throwing mud at the wall to see what will stick, so to speak.
Nobody ever admits they’re an oversharer (though I probably fall in that category from time to time), so here’s a quick test.
- Do you post more than three status updates on Facebook per day?
- Do you regularly tweet multiple times in a 15-minute increment?
- Do you spend much of your spare time pinning on Pinterest?
- Have you ever posted about your relationship or 24-hour stomach bug?
- Do you automatically want to pull out your phone whenever anything happens ever?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, there’s a good chance that you’re an oversharer. Remember: An oversharer isn’t always someone who updates a lot. It’s also someone whose updates give just a little too much information.
It’s human nature to seek positive feedback from others, and social media lets you do just that. That’s one reason why so many people make out social media to be a boogeyman for which to blame humanity’s oversharing and vapidity. But I don’t want to blame the Facebooks, Tumblrs, and Pinterests of the world.
Social media strokes that part of our nature that relishes positive reinforcement; we need to resist it. After all, we buck centuries of human nature when we say no to another chocolate or go for a jog. We need to train ourselves to crave likes and retweets a little less.
It’s difficult, but ask yourself: Do I really need to post another photo of my dog?
No, you don’t.