Crossing the Line: A balance between sharing and safety online


While perhaps not as obviously dangerous as running into a burning building, putting oneself in the direct line of fire in law enforcement or even spending one’s days operating on people to save lives, putting one’s life on public display on-line carries the sort of risk that creeps up and surprises you if you’re not careful.

Of course the most obvious risk when sharing your personal narrative to a wide public is that it sets you up for scrutiny or rejection. Increasingly though it seems that people have a more broad comfort in opening up their everyday experiences, activities and even previously unshared private thoughts – which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for people sharing their lives. I’d be a hypocrite to say otherwise, considering my own maelstrom of activity across myriad social media planes. However, there’s a difference between sharing … and crossing the often thin but clear line that delineates openness from over-sharing. Yes, the digital epidemic of TMI or as I like to say, the act not of living your life out loud, but in living it loudly.

Taken out of context, this quote from Emile Zola could be taken to mean spattering the world with every moment – the phenomenon of over sharing, or just being plain inappropriate.

The good news is that as these platforms and technologies move more rapidly into what could be considered regular use, people seem to be evolving a bit with it. That is partly due to things moving from the early days of spectacle, in which the technology (or saturation thereof) itself captivates, to a time when technologies’ presence becomes second nature. It’s also due to thoughtful voices, like that of author Brian Solis, who educate and encourage a more mindful approach to one’s presence online. It’s about thinking, or put more simply, it’s about remembering that online platforms are no different than the real world when it comes to basic social behavior. In fact, social norms well established in the carbon-based plane may even be magnified when digitally inclined. Discretion is critical.

Ranting about socially inappropriate gaffes aside, the real risk of splaying one’s life open on-line is in not having a strong awareness of security. In the carbon-based world we know to keep our doors and windows shut, keep an eye on our children and be mindful of our safety. When shifting online, however, people tend to let their real world vigilance slip, or, as in the case of the recently launched Google Buzz, merely signing up to use the technology can put you in danger.

With the depth of access people now have to each other’s personal information it is critical we not only be mindful of the words we use but also where we place each footstep down the digital path.

Image Credit: picapp

About The Author

What began for me as a career telling other people’s stories has evolved into a journey of helping others tell their stories for themselves. I'm a “classically trained” Journalist whose passion for communications began with my first job ripping wire copy in 1982 and has evolved to encompass nearly every platform and aspect of media – from reporting and editing to broadcast management, talent casting and guest booking. I've also curated content for several of the tech industry’s leading conferences. It was after finding myself engaged as an activist for LGBT equal rights that I began to explore the way in which personal stories inform and influence people’s everyday lives and I began using my tech background to teach people to make these connections of personal stories, using new technologies as the medium. Presently I run my own consulting firm in San Francisco, working with companies and individuals helping them navigate the crowded waterways of new technologies with the express purpose of leveraging these rapidly evolving platforms to tell their stories. Through workshops, seminars and strategic consulting services, I walk clients through the story-telling process and towards the kind of deep engagement that comes from truly authentic communication.

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