I have a theory about why our generation—the younger of us Gen Xers and nearly the entirety of the millennials—share their personal lives seemingly everywhere, from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to Pinterest.
It’s human nature to live in community.
Because we’re of generations that are structured around independence, solitude, the personal rather than the familial, we find solace online in a fabricated community where we can boast, gripe, advise, or critique.
For some—perhaps those who have strong, structured, nourishing communities—it doesn’t make sense why a woman would post on Facebook about her full day at work culminating with her working out at the gym and coming home to make dinner. However, for a woman who feels overshadowed by her schedule, or her lack of connection to anything besides her responsibilities, social media outlets are a way to find just that—an outlet.
In voicing their struggles, many women have found shared vulnerabilities and frustrations. They’ve realized they are not alone.
I’ve done it. When I was friendless, overworked, underpaid, homesick for my newborn, teaching too many classes, and struggling to find my identity, I vented on Facebook by detailing my schedule and wishing for summer break. When the outpouring of support—solidarity, compassion, listening ears—appeared on-screen, my day felt better; my life, less hollowed in a vacuum.
I felt heard.
When people inadvertently reach out over social media, I recognize it’s because of their inherent need for community. I admire their openness and hope they’ll find nourishment, rest.
We were created to be together, to tell stories, to respond. If my theory holds true, social media isn’t to blame for our disconnectedness; it’s the result of it.
This post is in response not only to something that’s been on my mind for some time, but also a Facebook question from my college friend Melinda, in which she wondered why some women feel the need to share so much online. I hope to continue a conversation about my theories on Why Community Matters over the next few posts.
Do you agree or disagree with my theory—and why? How do you find yourself most heard? What’s your take on why we over-share on social media?