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Are We Sharing Too Much?

June 14, 2010

I wanted to share this entry from my graduate school blog, as I felt it was relevant to all readers. I’ve made only a few edits to make it relevant on this blog.

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Lately I’ve been thinking about my voice and what image I hope to project through my writing. It’s difficult to decide what to share and what to keep private. Blogging can be very personal, almost like an online diary. Anyone seeking to establish themselves as a professional blogger and writer must find a way to stand out from the thousands upon thousands of amateurs on the Web.

Currently, I have two blogs. I have an academic blog, on which I share assignments and other items related to my graduate work. I do not share personal information there unless required to by an assignment. Any personal posts are left to this blog. By doing this, I’m attempting to separate my public persona from my private persona. Even with this blog, however, I don’t share everything about my life. I don’t believe every item of my life should be out in the open for the world to see. Honestly, I worry about people who share too much.

As my classmate Timebrat discussed recently, bad things can happen when we share too much about ourselves online. He mentioned a coworker who tweeted that she would be away all day and returned that night to find her home burglarized. Would this have happened if she hadn’t made it clear that she wouldn’t be there? Not likely. Stories like this are all too common as people fail to recognize the accessibility of their information on the Internet.

Recently, foursquare has gained popularity through Facebook and Twitter. This application is a perfect example of people sharing far too much information. With foursquare, users update their status messages to say where they currently are. From the post office to a concert, no location is off limits. Some users may think it’s fun to be the most frequent visitor to a location. They may see it as a game, a way to meet up with friends and receive discounts from stores and restaurants. What these users may not realize is that they are making it quite easy for potential criminals to know their exact location and take full advantage.

Personally, I try not to mention a concert or event until after it has occurred (unless I was writing an event preview). This way, no one knows that my apartment is empty or that I will be driving alone on the Merritt. Internet users, especially younger ones, need to be more aware of the globally accessible nature of the Web and use caution when sharing personal information.

The safety of you and your family is far more important than becoming the “mayor.” Think twice before jeopardizing it.

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What are your thoughts on apps like foursquare? Do you think people should share such details in an online forum? Do you share such info? Why or why not? Why do you think people are so willing to divulge this information? Please join in this discussion.

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