Media sharing’s upside, downside & advice on what to do about it

By Anne Collier

Why do people share innermost thoughts, unretouched photos, and rants and what they ate for lunch in texts, photos, and blogs? And why is this not just a narcissistic passing fad like streaking or something, a baby boomer, someone who grew up with mass media, might ask? This is worth consideration: “In part, it is the very human need to be heard and to connect with others. It is the desire to make a difference, to influence the world around us…. And it is the ongoing quest for authenticity in a world governed by image.” That was from The Nielsen Company’s Pete Blackshaw in a talk he gave for the Children’s Advertising Review Unit last month. [I agree. I think authenticity-seeking is one of the forces behind social media’s momentum, probably in more concentrated form where young people are concerned.]

Interestingly, while some are calling it a major media shift, Blackshaw called social media a movement, as he cited the cellphone’s contribution to it: “Mobile devices represent a major impetus behind the social media movement, driving part of the 250% audience increase for the year ending February 2009.”

Two governments and a whole lot of other adults, however, are concerned about the downside of this media-sharing, user-produced epoch that’s upon us. Canada’s Privacy Commissioner has a site for youth headed: “myprivacy. mychoice. mylife,” including “mycontest”: Canada’s 2009 “My Privacy and Me” national video competition. The Australian government launched a campaign aimed at youth whose centerpiece is the downloadable brochure, “private i: Your ultimate privacy survival guide.” For the parent-child team, I agree that “the privacy conversation starts before the cell phone or the Club Penguin account,” as the Togetherville blogger writes. The blog then reprints‘s great tips for avoiding oversharing, but the originals are here. And the NYLawBlog cuts right to what people need to know about a possible outcome of nasty oversharing: “What you need to know about defamation and Web 2.0.”

Two related links are: “Not actually extreme teens” (about the need to be always-on teen “PR machines”) and “Social networkers = spin doctors (I hope).”

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