Share your “invisible self” online for better relationships – End of the Day for April 22, 2014

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As social media has become a larger and larger part of lives, there has been much discussion about anonymity and privacy in our lives. Everyday we are confronted with articles warning us about the dangers of oversharing, sharing our location or even our thoughts. While I do agree that there are certain things you should never, if rarely, share online, most of us error greatly on the side of not sharing enough. We have a certain invisible self that never shows up online and limits how others see and understand us. I say its time to open up the curtain a bit and let your online contacts see more about you than what you had for lunch today.

Yes, there are countless stories about tasteless, destructive or criminal oversharing, but I believe these stories are only so prominent in the press because they are so rare. News outlets report on the exceptions in the world, not the norm and this sometimes causes us to confuse one for the other. Sure, one person posted to Facebook that they robbed the local liquor store, but millions didn’t rob a liquor store, nor would they post about it if they did!

Invisible online

Rather, I think we often hide away from our online contacts — posting only the most innocuous, pleasant or meaningless drivel and pretending it is “friendship.” The truth is, your real friends see more than you would perhaps like the to see and know perhaps more than you would like them to know, but that is part-and-parcel of friendship. Maybe the lack of connection that people often bemoan in social media comes from our own self-censorship, rather than any limitation of the technology itself.

For this reason, I would like to call on all of us, myself included, to start to share more of our invisible lives online and with our contacts there. In my case, I share a lot online, but there are a lot of things I don’t come right out and say. People who know me well probably know my political, religious and societal opinions and you might even be able to divine them the articles I post and share. Still, I am uncomfortable, in many cases, of coming right out and saying them. Maybe I need to be better about that. Perhaps people would understand me a but better, if like me less, if I shared more of those opinions? Who knows. This is a somewhat invisible part of me that I self-censor on a regular basis.

There are many parts of our invisible lives that we can and should share, though. What do you believe? What do you want? In love? In life? in death? Who do you love? Who do you hate? Why? Why do you do anything you do? Why can be a very simple word, but it often comes with a very difficult answer.

Part of the reason for my self-censorship ( and probably yours) in sharing thoughts like this come from the fear of being judged. I have carried this fear all my life and even at 50 still feel it deeply. That said, I am also getting to be old enough that I finally understand the words, “Those who mind don’t matter and those that matter don’t mind!” Friends (and online followers) who matter will stick with you when the going gets tough and the edges get rough. Those who won’t probably — in most cases — weren’t really connected to you anyway, except via a friends list. You may not always agree with what someone thinks or says, but if there is enough commonality, the benefits of friendship remain.

Take some time to think about what your LIKE to say to your friends and then say it. Face the fear and the consequences. Engage in an intelligent dialogue with people. Maybe you’ll change your opinion, maybe not. Converting others opinions isn’t the point. Rather it is the sharing, the discussion and the deepening of relationships that really matter. Share a little bit of your invisible life and I think you will be surprised with the results.

Previously on End of the Day:

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