Many state that the Internet has brought us closer together, and it’s true. But it’s less “family reunion” close and more “packed subway car at rush hour during a storm” close. Everybody is on top of each other, psychologically, all the time and it’s getting to be a little much. Thankfully, the pendulum has swung the other way and we, as a society, seem to have gotten over the novelty of being able to share every personal detail at every waking moment. And it’s scaring the crap out of Facebook.
“Original broadcast” sharing, i.e. posting something you decided everyone needed to know on your wall, sank by a fifth last year and has been dropping further this year. Of course, that’s relative: We’re talking about a website that one seventh of the world population has joined in some capacity or another. There’s still plenty of people demanding you behave like William, “challenges” to prove you like your children, and other misbehaviors. Overall sharing is down a bit, but not nearly to the same degree, which hints that people are still active on the site, just not oversharing.
Facebook is trying to reverse this, but they might be fighting a losing battle on two fronts. One, users are now fully aware everything they say and do on Facebook is being closely monitored by marketing departments; Facebook’s users have realized they’re the product, and many users may not be entirely happy about it. But in truth, even when you start posting about vegetarian recipes and Facebook starts trying to sell you “looser-fitting” pants, that doesn’t really bother most people.
Social taboos, though, have a lot of power, and society has been pushing hard against oversharing on social media for years now. This takes all sorts of forms: Mockery of “duckface,” campaigns against posting photos of food to Instagram, having to yell at a relative for going full Hitler, but all of it boils down to being told, relentlessly, that “nobody wants to hear this.” Be it rude, dangerous, gross, or what have you — there are many reasons — we’ve collectively decided that maybe people like us better when we give them some psychological space.
For Facebook, this may be bad news, but for the rest of us, it might be a relief. If nothing else, it’s proof that if enough of us yell loudly enough at each other, we start behaving better.
(Via The Information)