Facebook posts or Tweets: Are consumers oversharing over social sites?

Increase in the usage number of digital communication is causing consumers to lose their inhibitions. With the birth of social networking sites, people have started relying upon people whom they meet online and ‘oversharing’ the information, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. ‘Sharing itself is not new, but consumers now have unlimited opportunities to share their thoughts, opinions, and photos, or otherwise promote themselves and their self image online. Digital devices and gadgets such as smartphones and tabs help people share more, and more broadly than ever before’, as written by author Russell W. Belk (York University).

Blogging and posting status beckons us to tell all. YouTube’s slogan is ‘Broadcast Yourself’ and social networking websites ask us ‘What do you have to share? ‘. Nowadays, consumers can rate movies, like their friends’ statuses, books, articles and even places online and engage with other consumers on forums and on websites such as eBay, Amazon, Yelp and other shopping websites. The possibilities for sharing online are endless and many of the most well known websites and smartphone apps are devoted to sharing.

This week, the media was on fire when the news of the 70 year old Geraldo Rivera had shared a shirtless self picture on his twitter account. Just like Rivera, countless celebrities, from ’30 Rock’ star Alec Baldwin to Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace, have lived to regret controversial tweets. This results in mental stress that leads to devastating results in a person’s life.

While a limited number of people can see our physical self; a virtually infinite number of people may see our online representation of ourselves. This doesn’t only leads to serious crimes but may put the victim in depression or chronic stress if the shared information flows in wrong hands.

Appearing literally or figuratively in a ‘bad’ way or sense online can come back to haunt consumers in future school or job findings that results in tremendous lack of self confidence, self embarrassment and shame.

‘Due to online disinhibition effect and tendency to confess to far more shortcomings and errors than they would divulge face to face, consumers seem to disclose more and may wind up oversharing through digital media to their eventual regret’, the author concludes.