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TMI: Too Much Internet Use?

Be Careful How Much You Share--Things Could Grow Messy. Photo by Flickr user ojbyrne.

In high school, I remember hearing girls tell each other “T.M.I.” when one would tell a little “too much information” about themselves to their group of friends. The girls would giggle and move on to their next class. In high school, I remember hearing about this Web site called “Facebook.” It was supposedly the new and cool thing to do, but was so mysterious because (at the time) you had to have an “.edu” e-mail to register for an account. Now, as most of us know, Facebook is open to any and every type of person. From the middle-age mother in New York to the middle school student in New Mexico, anybody can create a profile and potentially give out “too much information” to the world. When the Internet is involved, however, it could be difficult to simply giggle and move on from being guilty of T.M.I.

I had the pleasure of reading an excerpt from Scott Rosenberg’s book, Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why it Matters. Co-founder of the entertainment Web site, Salon.com, Rosenberg writes in the introduction of Say Everything about the infamous terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and how the power of blogging slowly brought an emotionally crumbling world back together.

Rosenberg goes on, in his first chapter, to tell the story of a pioneer blogger, Justin Hall, and how he was not afraid to “put everything out there” on the Internet. Inevitably, Hall had faced some emotional breakdowns as a result of his freely posting too much information. Hall, however, did find hope in the midst of everything, making a striking comeback and becoming highly recognized, in the end.

One thing I found interesting is that Rosenberg comments that “Web content was ‘dead'” at the time of the collapse of the World Trade Center. He goes on and says that at the time of the Internet’s collapsing, many in the media believed that it also took down developing ideas. At the time of the September 11 attacks, however, it grew evident that the public ran to the Internet to find great comfort and solace in times of crisis. While half of society, it seemed, ran to the Internet to blog and share what was happening in New York, the other of half ran to the Internet to read what was going on and know that they weren’t alone.

It’s interesting that weblogs provide a source wherein people can create more “real” stories that can have great effect on others. That is to say, a lot of what people say on weblogs can very easily be filtered out in mainstream media.

With the story of Justin Hall, Rosenberg seems to go further with this idea that it’s fine to share what’s going on around you because there is always somebody there who will listen. Hall, however, to have shared too much, which led me to think: Can you truly expose too much of yourself on the Internet? Is it harmful to be completely open about yourself?

According to Rosenberg, Hall enjoyed sharing to people what probably wouldn’t make it through mainstream media filtering. While I believe that exposing nudity of yourself and graphic details about previous lovers, etc, is a bit extreme to be sharing on the Internet, I simultaneously believe we’re all capable of it to an extent through the use of modern-day social networking sites (Facebook and Myspace especially).

These sites can help us in showing that we have nothing to hide about ourselves, but give too much information and these sites can harm us if potential employers find us exposed on a Web site.

The public is always going to want to listen, I believe. I think Rosenberg is saying that blogging is an important means to reach out to others but don’t abuse it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “oversharing.”

It’s easy to be laughed at for sharing “T.M.I.” on the Internet.

It’s not always easy to move past it, once you’ve been found guilty of it.