Monday, December 10, 2012

The Facebook Dilemma

I've been "on" Facebook for a few years now.  Everyone who has known me for an extended period of time knows that I'm not a very private person. Years before the invention of social media (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter), I was the one divulging nearly any information anyone would ask me. It's really just who I am. Some people would call me an over-sharer. Some people call me real. My closest friends have been my friends since childhood and they happen to still like me. If I share too much, talk to much, or share too many opinions, they tell me to shut up and that's that. Some people really appreciate my candor and personality. Some people, however, don't operate the way I do and cannot fathom why I would share so much. This leads to problems on Facebook.

Facebook etiquette varies person to person. There is no rule book we all have to follow. Now that every organization and business known to man is on Facebook, dozens and dozens (and more) of people are privy to what we all post on Facebook. Many people don't care to see more than the occasional picture and/or update. A cheery, this world is great, I'm back from Rome, my cat did something hilarious - is all some people want to see - and they don't want to see it every day. More than one update a week and a few pictures a month are considered over-kill. And, you would never share when you're sick, when your child threw a fit and embarrassed you in a grocery store, and you would certainly never ever even hint that your spouse/partner, etc. did something the least bit jerky.

I recently attended an online conference. It was an educational conference for health care professionals, lactation professionals, etc. An expert in social media was one of the speakers. In her lecture, she encouraged us to disseminate evidence-based information via social media (this is how we correct misinformation, spread new research, etc). The main theme of this conference was lactation - so she was obviously referring to lactation, specifically. Key word: Evidence-based. So, on my breastfeeding support group page, I keep it at that. Evidence-based articles. Obviously, mother-to-mother support on that page will have anecdotal information (i.e., XYZ worked for my teething baby) but, I don't share anecdotal research, as a general rule. 

But what about our personal FB pages? Is it okay to disseminate information? If we find a promising study regarding breast cancer prevention, for example, is it okay to share? If we find a study regarding the dangers of consuming GMOs, the new found benefits of breastfeeding or risks of formula feeding, is that okay to share? What is okay and what is not okay to share? Since social media is so prominent in our every day life, many feel that the way to bring about change, to heighten awareness, is to share, share, share.

The problem is that not everyone feels that way. Some feel that sharing things like mentioned above is bullying, bashing or just plain filling up newsfeeds with unnecessary "junk." For me, bullying or bashing is specifically naming someone and verbally abusing them for decisions they made/make. Sharing a medical journal article or even research that is still in early stages, and starting a healthy debate is something I welcome FB friends to do.

For example, I have shared information regarding Baby-Led Weaning on my personal FB page. Parents have seen it, inquired for more information, fed their baby that way and loved it!  Recently, I had the unfortunate experience of a medical professional trying to retract my son's foreskin during an appointment. This is a big no-no. Lots of information, even from the AAP, that this is not necessary and can even do great harm and even life-long damage (taking care/cleaning of an intact infant/child is just as easy or easier than taking care of a girl). I posted about my experience on FB, some links and had a few mothers thank me for the information. Some had chosen to circ because of misinformation. One mother even thanked me and said she had been retracting and would stop due to the information I linked. This post had positive outcomes. Though, for some, I'm sure it had an unwanted shock factor.

All this being said, I recently changed my Facebook settings. I had gotten feedback here and there that my over-sharing was a bit too much. I'm not upset about this. I find it rather amusing, actually, for people to be so concerned about what I post on FB that doesn't pertain to them.  However, for people who I either don't know very well or who I believe have more strict FB etiquette policies (and that's okay!), I have put them into a category in which I can easily block from certain posts. It doesn't mean that I don't like these people, it means that I'm trying to respect their wishes. I didn't want to have a "screw them" kind of attitude. If I know some of the things I post bother some people, I've come to the conclusion that I should spare them and hide them from that particular post. It's win-win. I don't have to worry about offending them and they don't have to see it and feel something negative.

How do I personally feel (if you can't tell already) about what people post? Unless it's an OPSEC violation, I don't really care what people post on FB and, honestly, I'm not sure why other people care so much. If you don't want to join an online debate, don't. If you think someone over-shared, scroll past. It's not about you (most likely). I just scroll past the updates that don't interest me. I really don't give it much more thought than that. If people want to over-share, it doesn't bother me. I gain so much from so many of the posts showing up in my newsfeed - I welcome new information, interesting facts, and even the occasional over-share! On occasion I have blocked people from showing up in my newsfeed (usually this is for extreme cursing or trashy talk - or complaining about election results weeks after it's over) temporarily - but this is rare.

Since we do have the ability to block who shows up in our newsfeed, I do think some people would benefit from only having their very close personal friends and family show up in their feed...


Amie said...

:) I love you and all of your over-sharing! People need to chill out & if they see something that bothers them on Facebook then they should either unsubscribe from that person's posts or un-friend them. You keep on being YOU, k?! :)

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