We share heaps of personal information on Facebook: birthdays, relationship status, location and much, much more. The line has now been blurred between participating in social media and completely over-sharing the details of our lives. FALEN TUUGA STEVENSON investigates.
How much is too much? Over-sharing on social networking site Facebook was the norm back in the good old days (which isn’t that long ago). At first, status updates were an efficient way to keep friends up to date. It was also the way of sharing normal things such as “off to a movie” or “how about that Auckland weather?” It was a source of relevant news, where users could find out what has been happening around the world, the latest in entertainment and what was of interest to them and their Facebook friends.
A study from the Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab at Harvard found that “our brains respond to self-disclosure in the same way they respond to pleasure triggers like food, money or sex.” In other words, most of us like sharing online, and many of us find the act of sharing too much very enjoyable.
Facebook has since become an open diary, where anyone and everyone is joining in on the worldwide internet phenomenon.
Newsfeeds have been bombarded with what are called OMG confessions pages, where Facebook has gone into over-sharing overdrive. Users reveal disturbing home truths, mostly centered on acts of underage sex, run-ins with the law, revenge and infidelity.
The pages post anonymous confessions where only the creator of the page can see who the source is. User’s send a private message to the page with their confession, then it is posted up on the main domain. Some pages have restricted the confessions to first names only, while others reveal full name details, age, and location.
The issue with these pages is that anyone is a target and NO ONE can say if there is any truth or validity to what has been said. These are permanent records and could be harmful to you or someone you know as these explicit and degrading secrets are exposed daily. Most are usually humorous and some you can tell are made up.
Here is the most appropriate confession I could find on OMG confessions, which has over 54,000 likes.
Example: OMG #663 I confess I sent myself a Valentine’s card, regrets no! But the flowers were fabulous...
The creation of OMG confession pages has risen significantly. There is a page for every group imaginable; school, university, city, ethnic group… the list goes on!
The OMG Hawkes Bay confessions page was the first to hit the news, with city officials jumping in saying how degrading the page was. This drew support from the community to social workers and even the mayor. It was later taken down; however it was only a matter of time before a replacement page was created.
For the Pacific communities there is one for every Pacific nation. The latest OMG! island hidings page has over 10,000 likes. Although the seriousness of some of the physical abuse is questionable, most posts are usually written in humour and the island way of laughing things off. The funny thing is that the cover photo (main image on the page) is the “violence: it’s not okay” advertisement.
Example: When I was about 12 my dad had gout and I accidently stood on his foot, and got a quick jab to the head, I thought it was harsh at the time............so I was 18 and had gout for the first time, that sh** is painful!!! and looking back I'm surprised dad didn't beat the crap out of me LOL
Social networking sites enable users to present an idealised version of themselves, where you go through a process of choosing the best profile photo to updating only positive things. The shift to degrading yourself by using these pages only promotes the negative behaviour that surrounds the confession. There are no age restrictions so young people are able to go on and read all of the absurd acts.
Another issue raised is the fact that these are now becoming new ways for online bullying to persist. I know someone who has been targeted on these pages where another person has posted something about them. The fact that someone went on to publicly humiliate them infuriates me. These people are called “keyboard warriors” - those who hide behind their computer thinking they have some sort of authority and power when, in reality, they lack the social skills to confront someone like a real person should.
Anonymous posters can be in trouble with the law if they are not careful. Instead of posting your dirty little secrets, here are some tips on what you can do to maintain some form of self respect.
• Get a diary
• Write a novel, most confessions have used a great deal of imagination
• Seek counseling or talk to a trusted family member if the issue is linked to physical or mental abuse
• If you are on the receiving end and do not wish to read about these things, you can block updates from that person or just stop going on the OMG confessions pages.
Have your say!
What do you think about the OMG confessions pages?