You just did what? The rise of the oversharers
The image below is map of Australia but it’s not just any map, it is taken from a social media website called ijustmadelove.com. Yes, it’s a map logging the location, time and date of where people have had sex.
It also allows them to detail what type of sex they had, whether it was inside, outdoors or on a boat and to rate it using a 5 star system.
It is, in many ways, a sign of the increasing trend within society to reveal more and more private information and explains why in 2008 Webster’s dictionary had to create a new word – “overshare”.
Webster’s defined overshare as a verb and it means: “to divulge excessive personal information, as in a blog or broadcast interview, prompting reactions ranging from alarmed discomfort to approval.”
It’s the kind of a word that appears to have been created almost with ijustmadelove.com users in mind.
Increasingly, we are seeing a trend in social media sites develop that encourages us to broadcast more and more personal information - be it your location, spending habits and, yes, even where and when you had sex.
But what’s interesting is not that the sites exist, voyeurism after all is nothing new, but rather their growth in popularity and our willingness to take up the offer.
Anyone who uses, microblogging site, Twitter will have noticed the sudden emergence of tweets listing people’s locations using the latest and ‘coolest’ new social media site foursquare.
The location-based social media site describes itself as a friend-finder, a social city-guide and a game all in one that allows you to log and review your current location be it a bar, restaurant, store, or train station.
You can then broadcast this to your friends, relatives, colleagues and acquaintances via other social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.
But what has yet to answered is why would/should they care that you just shopped at X store or ate Y restaurant?
Yes there is a review attached but there is also one at Eatability and a dozen other websites.
Surely, the only people actually interested in this information are the businesses that can profit from this information and profit they are.
You only need to look at Yahoo’s offer in April to buy foursquare, a company with 17 employees, for a handsome $125 million to see the money at play.
The offer, for the record, was turned down with the founding realising they would get more if they held on.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook is now infamous for his comments, when he was still at Harvard, crudely noting the stupidity of people freely handing over valuable information that he could then resell to advertisers.
Zuckerberg reportedly described them as “dumb f*cks”.
Yet these revelations have done nothing to stop the growth of a website with fairly obvious commercial benefits like blippy.com, which has the slogan “learn what your friends are buying”, and allows you to exactly detail to your friends what you are spending your money on.
Now before you seek to label the people on this website ‘wankers’ for wanting to parade their purchase of an expensive watch or a pair of shoes consider this.
Would you have believed 10 or even 5 years ago that you would be putting up regular “status updates” or “tweets” to your friends?
And can you honestly say you’ve never posted something through a social media site that boasted, showed off or detailed a recent purchase?
If you can answer no, that’s great, but increasingly most people would have to answer yes.
The privacy implications and the increasing commercialisation of our information are points that will no doubt continue to be debated in years to come.
But surely the root cause here is our increasing need to overshare.
Around the world, right now, you can just picture the dozens if not hundreds of PhD students, ensconced in universities, writing theses on the topic.
You can just see the arguments now, that explain oversharing as the culmination of primitive forms of boasting or as a sign of our lack of connectedness in the 21st Century.
Personally, I’m not sure what causes oversharing but I do wonder if it’s not a sign of increasing insecurity within society and a need for validation.
Having said that I also have to be honest and say I won’t be deleting my Twitter account anytime soon.
But you won’t find me on foursquare or Ijustmadelove.com, either.
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