kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

When 'sharing' isn't necessarily caring

WE all have that one friend.

The one we suspect of having a cell phone as an extension of his or her hand, the one who we think views the world via a glorious 1080p screen, and whose phone camera is in selfie mode by default.

That one friend for whom a glass of kopi O is reason enough to justify an Instagram upload, complete with a plethora of dazzling filters and a profusion of hashtags (#blessed #mamak4life #gengkopimurah #gajibelummasuk).

And every once in a while, there are those who take things up just a notch higher. If you’ve been anywhere near Facebook or Twitter last week, there is little chance that you had missed the epic circus that took place when a Malaysian woman uploaded a selfie of herself breastfeeding her child.

Naturally, that triggered a flood of responses from supporters as well as detractors.

Some feel that breastfeeding is one that is sacred between mother and child, and need not be turned into a social media occasion.

Others, meanwhile, believe that she has every right to do so, and that it is a celebration of her womanhood and motherhood. Besides, they opined, if you don’t like it, then don’t look at it.

The episode was deemed substantial enough to warrant a response from Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim, who said that while breastfeeding is a noble act, it is one best left out of public view.

Other Malaysians, meanwhile, passed around the popcorn.

So, what exactly constitutes “too much” sharing and why do people do it? Academics believe that “social media narcissism” is an actual thing and can be used to measure a person’s level of self-esteem.

A research by York University of Toronto measured activities, such as photo sharing, wall postings and status updates, as well as the frequency of the posts.

It established that narcissists and those with lower self-esteem are more likely to spend an hour or more a day on Facebook, and were also more likely to post self-promotional pictures and “promote” themselves via status updates and wall activity.

A 2012 study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior also suggested that self-conscious people compensate for low self-esteem by trying to appear more popular on social media sites.

But, while it is tempting to dismiss such behaviour as pure narcissism, other researches suggest that the conclusion isn’t as cut and dried.

A study by Bruce McKinney, from the University of North Carolina, and published in the journal Communication Research Reports, concluded that such postings may be not as indicative of narcissism as once thought.

He believes that it can actually be time to redefine narcissism, as it has evolved to become the social norm for younger people. There is, unfortunately, a price to be paid when one’s yardstick for social acceptance hinges on the number of “likes” and “followers”.

The effects may not be seen now, but may manifest itself in new problems in the not too distant future. Already, there are indications that sharing of information, too much or otherwise, can lead to big problems.

NST Opinions 19 JANUARY 2016 @ 11:00 AM
Tags: sharing

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