People often ask me what my opinion is on giving away too much information online. How do we decide what to keep private online and what to share? That decision is personal, and depends on your level of comfort.
Some things to consider:
- Always check the privacy level of what you are sharing to make sure you have the expected audience (ie Public, friends etc)
- Decide if you want to share pictures of your children. Some parents do not, so be mindful of that if you are posting pictures of a birthday party or event that includes other people’s children
- How do you feel about pictures of your home? Watch for background photos that give away a lot of what you own or the layout of your house
- Beware the overshare. When you tell people more than they need to know (anything that might make someone feel uncomfortable).
This said, being in a social network is a great opportunity to make a personal connection. So do not be afraid to give a little of yourself too. I thought I’d try a different perspective for you to ponder: Forget online identities for a moment, what information are we giving away when we actually meet someone in public? What do we say about ourselves without saying anything at all?
A person who saw me walking down the street could assume the following things about me:
I am a woman. I am probably between 30 and 40 years old (though if you guessed under 30, that would be cool too). I have fair skin. I prefer to dress in casual clothes which says something about the types of jobs I may have. If you saw me get in to my car then you would know that I drive a mini-van; a good guess is that I have kids, or maybe I really like side-sliding doors and loads of cargo (which is true too). Depending when you saw my car, you could guess the ages of my kids by the types of child seats. I also have a dog hammock in the rear seat. I do not have those family stickers on the back of my car but many people do and they speak volumes about family members.
If you stood beside me you could also note:
I wear a wedding ring. I also wear an iron ring which, to those who know, is a symbol of having graduated engineering from a Canadian university. I have a Canadian accent so I was likely born here, eh? I would like to think I am somewhat articulate (you be the judge) and that would indicate at least a high school education. I usually wear glasses.
Then there are the myriad of physical choices I make from my clothes brands to my shoe type to my hair cut. All of these things tell a bit of my story and how I want to be perceived by the world.
That is a LOT of information you would know and you haven’t even had to ask for it. I put it on display every day.
What does it all mean?
There are many opportunities for public sharing, through social media, which allows us to expose aspects of ourselves that may have otherwise been hidden. But, parts of you are meant to be seen and that may be ok too. So don’t stress the details that are already public; Beyond that, the choice is yours.