I’ve seen a bunch of people posting and commenting about this article about the joy of unfollowing in the age of TMI via social media. To me, the most ah-ha moment of the piece is this line:
There is no such thing as TMI on the Internet….There is such a thing as too much information for you.
The gist of the article is about sharing too much online in terms of details some would consider to be gory or vulgar, but what struck me was the point about “too much information for you” as it relates to just sharing online, period. I’m hardly the only blogger who has regularly wrestled with burnout and the feeling that maybe it’s time to just give up blogging once and for all. For whatever reason, I keep staying (and even starting new blogs…sigh); others have walked away and never looked back. Or at least never blogged about looking back.
I think just as there’s such a thing as TMI when it comes to sharing racy photos (or just downright vulgar photos) or the intimate details of one’s life, there can also be TMI in terms of the emotional and mental cost of sharing too much of yourself online. It’s no mystery that blogging isn’t just about keeping an online diary; these days–the heyday of “content”–blogging is about creating content, about quantity more than quality and about checking off the box that yes, you created it and yes you shared it and this many other people shared it and commented on it. It’s about numbers more than it is about words, which is kind of depressing. And especially in these days of visibility on the internet, it’s about being ok with whatever you choose to share being a permanent part of your record, and also being prepared to defend yourself against haters or stalkers or even just future employers.
I admit to the occasional gulity pleasure of lurking on the GOMI forums–very occasional because, frankly, I already spend way too much time online so I don’t have very much time to dedicate to lurking any particular place. I don’t really know many of the bloggers they snark about there, but it’s fun to sometimes kill a few minutes seeing what annoys people about various popular bloggers. A common theme seems to be that so-and-so is fake or doesn’t seem to be that deep–or, in GOMI terms–is just stupid or vapid or whatever other insult. Reading those forums reminds me that there’s something huge to be said about blogging under the radar, and also for keeping your emotional cards close to the vest when it comes to authenticity online. Sure, sharing your innermost secrets and feelings online can be liberating and can be a good way to connect with readers who may share similar struggles or who may be in a similar phase of their lives, but it also makes you vulnerable and can be very draining emotionally. For some, the drama and attention is energizing and addicting; for others (like me), it is emotionally draining and takes away from my real life, which is why I’ve mostly stopped doing it. Ten years ago I blogged about my personal stuff a lot more; these days, I journal about that stuff. Does that make me less authentic? Maybe. But the rewards of sharing too much just aren’t worth the emotional cost, to me, at least.
Not really sure what my point is here; I guess, if anything, it’s a word of caution to newer bloggers who feel themselves getting dragged under by the drama and the crowded-ness of the blogosphere these days. Yes, there is great swag to be had, and the thrill of internet fame and all the rest of it, but at what cost? Just as each person has their own threshold for TMI when it comes to graphic or vulgar stuff, each person has their threshold for how much is too much to share with the world. If you’re comfortable putting it all out there and it doesn’t drain you emotionally to do it, that’s great; but if your blog is making you miserable or stressed, my advice to you is don’t be afraid to just walk away or scale back the emotional investment. Life is way too short to sweat stuff like blogging.