When I got home today, I logged on to my Facebook page to see what had happened through the course of the day. Expecting the usual Saturday fair of “fun in the sun” posts, the occasional article, and baby pictures by the dozen, I was rather shocked to see at the top of my newsfeed a photograph of a woman shaving her husband’s horribly hairy back.
The general rule of thumb with the Internet is that you shouldn’t share anything on there that you wouldn’t share in person. It is true that in many senses the Internet is replacing in-person experience, but the fact remains that it is both (a) public interaction, and (b) held among people you generally consider yourself to acquaintance in real life.
There are a lot of things I would prefer people not share with me in person, and many of those transcend onto the Internet. While some are more tolerable when I’m sitting behind the privacy of my own computer, it nonetheless stands that there is a general standard of Things I Would Prefer You Not Post Online. My mother-in-law always uses the “but it’s like family” argument – but that is a weak one. No matter who you are, no matter how you are associated with me – there are just some things I don’t want to know. Here are some of them:
1. I do not want to know if you just ate a big meal and are now in the bathroom. Really I can do without all references to bowel movement. Call me crazy, but I like to keep the privacy of the bathroom … well, private.
2. I do not wish to see pictures of you performing basic hygienic functions. This includes, but is not limited to, shaving your legs, shaving your back, shaving your pits, shaving any other part of your body that mentioning would upgrade this blog post to PG-13, washing yourself, scraping your tongue, and (most importantly) cleaning … anything. I will admit, I have cracked an occasional joke about May No Shave Month, but that does not mean I would ever post photos of it. Please, do me the same courtesy.
3. It would be totally awesome if you would spare me your relationship drama. Switching your Facebook status from “in a relationship” to “single” is one thing; blathering note after note, status after status, about all your back-and-forth dramas is another. Announcing that you are officially divorced is one thing; crying for attention through vague and intentionally dramatic posts is another.
4. Back to the bathroom, could you please spare me the commentary on your child’s bowel and bathroom habits? No one thinks all the status updates about your new baby soiling everything around him is cute. No one enjoys to hear that your toddler is constipated on her sing-a-long potty. The children’s book is called “Everybody poops,” but that doesn’t mean everybody wants to know about it.
5. If you are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, et. all to brag about all the mundane, pointless details of your life that bear no consequence to anyone or anything, then fine. That’s not why I’m on any of them, though. I’m sure the majority of the world would agree with me – social networking does not mean we need to be with you at all times, from get up and shower, to laundry and bed. As much as you may think that we all enjoy hearing that you are on your way home to take a nap, or that you’re heading out to another day of work, I think your updates would be much more meaningful if only they carried some sort of meaning.
6. Check-ins are cool, but not when it’s at your home, or (worse) in your bed. Why is it even an option for people to create GPS-locatable check-in points at their own home, or (worse) in their beds? Nothing is worse than logging in to Facebook to see that “Jane Smith and John Doe just checked in to Jane’s Bed.” Thank you, but we all really (a) don’t care, and (b) don’t want to imagine you getting it on.
I suppose the general idea needs to be reiterated: if you wouldn’t tell people about it in person, keep it off the Internet. And, really – if you would tell people about it in person, then society likely isn’t the place for you. Close friends, family – doesn’t matter who … privacy has a meaning. Learn it.
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