Every day, I am more intrigued by the personal details people share without qualm in public fora. The only logic I can apply to it is that they feel so anonymous as one of many in a vast pool of content generators that they won’t really be noticed–or that only the “right” people will notice while everyone else goes about her business. In fact, there is so much information swirling around that it’s easy for almost anything to get lost in the maelstrom. I don’t have time to sift through it all, so I can understand how a public platform can be an insulator when shared by many.
Still, I’ve found that many people are simply not judicious, even imprudent, when sharing personal information in public. By public, I mean anywhere there’s even a passive audience. That may be online, in an airport, in a restaurant, at a bus stop–anywhere. While I haven’t heard people spew streams of credit card numbers or social security IDs, I have picked up information that falls everywhere along the TMI-to-just-plain-dumb spectrum.
From Facebook, I’ve learned of yeast infections, constipation, and sexual frustration (no further comment necessary). From airport cell phone conversations, I’ve learned how many people came to Ira’s funeral (far too few for such a nice man), how to make enchiladas in Alaska (fabulous recipe), who is going to screw up which business deals (we can’t let THAT happen), how many loads of laundry got done that morning (can she come to my house?), what sales numbers are going to be this month (although not yet released), and the loud lady from New York’s home address so the livery service can get her there (now I know where she lives and that she’s not there at the moment).
I don’t need to know any of this. I don’t want to know any of this. I heard it all nonetheless. While anonymity may be an insulator of sorts, there is always someone unintended listening, whether as the result of volume and happenstance or motives more sinister. Either way, I think it’s time for a general communication check. Let’s keep the private stuff private, the personal stuff personal. Consider your safety, your reputation, your embarrassment factor, and general politeness. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
[Today's post is a bit of a ramble, for which I apologize. I still think it's worth contemplating.]