8 May 2016

'But your whole life is online' - internet careers and the overshare threshold


overshare threshold in blogging and youtube

We've entered the new era of personality politics. Social media and content sharing platforms have opened the floodgates for the everyday girls and boys to become internet celebrities. It's a new medium, a new media in it's infant stages, flip-flopping between being treated with kid-gloves and unchecked disdain. It's also brought about the notion of 'fandom' to everyday vernacular - and even though it's most certainly not a new concept, the accepted ferocity of some fans entitlement is something I've only seen in the very deep, murky depths of otaku and sasaeng culture***. And that's not something I like seeing. 

Content creators end up in a bit of a catch 22 situation: they like/want/need their fans, and their fans like/want/need the relatable content produced... but because the content is so relatable, and often centred around the creator's' personal life the fans want to know more. Everything.

But everything is dangerous, and not enough draws criticism, speculation and the need for clarification. Where's the threshold? When does becoming comfortable with the audience tip into oversharing?


overshare threshold in blogging and youtube

If you were looking for a definitive answer, then I'm sorry, I don't have one. If you ask 'how much is too much?' to a group of content creators the answers will vary wildly; trying to hash out a 'general' through analysis would be a waste of time. There will always be outliers, and attempts to police content is something I'm not down with.

The overshare threshold shifts with each content creator. It's a personal thing, so a 'one size fits all' approach to gauge an idea of whether something is suitable to publish or not for an individual is a bit of a non-starter. Some are really open with the idea of sharing the ins and outs of their daily lives, others are far more private. It's about knowing personal boundaries and adhering to those rather than the fetching little gremlin that comes hand in hand with self-made decisions.


Pressure.


A pressure different from the responsible professionalism other careers expect. It's more nuanced than stated, coming from multiple places. Anyone who creates content that is predominantly about themselves and puts it online will have probably experienced at least one source. The internal, manifesting in self pressure: the should I talk about this even though I want to? Is it too much??; and familial pressure: how will it affect, or reflect on, the family? The external: blogospheric pressure: there should be more content talking about x,y,z - talking about things helps end stigma and lowers or removes boundaries, it helps create a culture of understanding, vs people calling for less on topics that make them uncomfortable; and fan/reader/viewer pressure: the desire to know everything about their favourite people.

It's hard to draw clear-cut boundaries in the proverbial sand, things get moved around and blurred as situations and circumstances change. It's very hard to switch off, especially with the forever expanding list of social services being used to interact. It's a constant go which can make stepping into 'overshare' very, very easy.

And once you're there it's almost impossible to claw private ground back.

Once something's on the internet, it's there forever. 


Then on the flipside, private people are treated as though they have something to hide, or that by only sharing the happy moments they're curating unattainable standards. Not real enough. Too perfect. Too fake. An alternate existence that isn't really them, unrelateable, and they must be held accountable for showing young, impressionable audiences cherry-picked content.

You shouldn't believe everything you see.


Where there isn't a one size fits all for what to publish, people sure do like to separate what's already out there into camps.


Generally, I think that our inherent nosiness as a species coupled with the new accessibility to information makes it harder to resist the pressures. Most particularly fan pressure. I honestly do believe we live in a world that is increasingly controlled by the feeling of entitlement - that we deserve to know everything, regardless of whether that 'thing' is a person or not. Returning to the catch 22 - if people know more about the person, they're likely to continue consuming what they're putting out into the world - the rise of blogging and youtube is down to the more personable feel over magazines and TV, so tapping into that does help if that's the direction you want to take. But it also creates the issue of fans expecting a level of knowing that some creators may not feel comfortable sharing, and then we're right back to circling pressures.


It's a weird concept, I guess, but one that I've been thinking about more recently. Personally, I think it's a case of creators: you do you and don't let anyone push you around; fans: remember that creators are people and entitled to their privacy.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, whether you agree, disagree or if there's anything you'd like to add!



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*** otaku and sasaeng culture are considered, in Japan and Korea respectively, to be extreme fan cultures. They're not looked upon favourably. Whereas the meaning of otaku has lessened somewhat in western translation from the original Japanese concept, it's still not a casual term to be thrown around in relation to Japanese fandoms, especially not in a cutesy way.
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10 comments

  1. I love this post, every point is just so true. I think there is no real problem-solver to this. I think it's, as you said, that one-size won't fit all and each content creator will choose how much they do and do not share. I think the only solution then is for the people who follow them to understand and accept that this is what they choose to share and what they choose not to share. If they're after someone who shares or more or less then I think the viewers just need to find people who have freely chosen to share the amount of information at that viewer is after.

    Amy
    thenoiseinwonderland.blogspot.com.au

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  2. YES THAT LAST SENTENCE! Creators share but they deserve their own privacy too. I always wonder if im over sharing online, especially since i consider myself a private person and the jobs i'd be applying for in the future probably wouldnt appreciate me having a huge online presence (as of now i don't so thats cool - but still, i wonder what people will think when they stumble upon my online sites). For me, i see it as a form of content creation as oppose to just putting your whole life online, no matter what it is curated and censored to some extent, we just need to know that. And we should always rmb that once things are online, they are there 5ever our kids grand kids and great great great great grandkids can see them. Gotta make sure it doesnt reflect badly when they do ever one day see it. thats how my "assessment" of what should be online or not lol!

    xx Loved this post hun!
    Carina

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  3. This is so true! I never used to care much about what I was sharing on the internet when I was younger, but as I got older I realised how important it was to keep personal matters personal. I was such an oversharer back then and was much happier, but then it's nice to keep some things to myself.

    Lizzie Bee // mysticthorn.com

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  4. This is so interesting! I've been thinking a lot about the value in ditching social media, but then again, my instagram is part of my brand and deleting my instagram would mean losing brand value... it's such a difficult situation.
    xx Alyssa
    visionsofnyc.blogspot.com

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  5. Love this post. And I totally agree. If you want to share loads? Do! If not, then don't. Share what you feel comfortable and safe with!

    Meg | A Little Twist Of…

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  6. I really enjoyed reading this! On the one day social media and being online is great. It's given me opportunity to connect with so many like minded people, helping me feel less lonely in the real world when I don't have anyone. However, sometimes we all need to take a step back from the Internet me social media. A healthy balance is key! Thank you for this great post, it was really insightful xx


    Thrifty vintage fashion

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  7. Totally love this post. As a person that kind of circles the digital space since my careers in Public Relations/Digital Marketing/Digital Advertising, I relate to this a lot. I do have loads of secrets but end up spilling quite a bit about myself online. It doesn't bother me since I'm such an upfront person regardless but this post was very appealing to me since it directly impacts me. :)

    S .x http://ramblingsofayoungprgirl.blogspot.com

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  8. Sucha good post that I think all bloggers/youtubers etc. can relate to. When I first started my blog I wanted to share everything but then thought what if my family/friends don't want that and also what might happen in the future, will people want to know more to the point they get angry if I don't share, that would be dangerous and scary! It's a confusing and difficult topic, but you're so right, the creators are entitled to their own privacy too, and readers should understand that too!

    https://aashslittletalks.wordpress.com

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  9. I do sometimes look at what I've written and wonder 'how did I end up talking about this stuff on the Internet? Under my own name?' Especially since most of what I write about I could barely talk about one to one in person before I started blogging.

    I think you're right that you can't generalise a rule. I think fans need to be more understanding of the fact the Internet is forever, and that creators might not be doing what they're doing now in ten years time, and don't want to close off future avenues with what they put out there.

    For me, I was basically unemployable before I decided to drop the anonymity. I'll talk about any subject, and since my readers share personal stuff in return I'm happy to answer any questions. Unless the person is being a douche, then they're just blocked.

    My line is that I won't talk about other people who are currently in my life unless they've told me without promoting that it's okay. Otherwise I don't think it's fair. That limits how much of the day to day stuff I can share. Which I think is the right balance for myself as well.

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  10. I love this post and I admire your style of writing. This post definitely has your voice and personality put into it. It's true, do what you do without letting others push you. Thanks for this!

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