Social-Media-Overshare-blogA report from UCLA actually is confirming what I have been saying for a long time – oversharing on social media is putting you at potential risk for becoming a victim of cyberbullying or digitally shamed.

Recent evidence suggests that bystanders are even less likely to intervene with online compared to offline bullying. Given that receiving social support following bullying can buffer victims from maladjustment, it is important to consider specific factors influencing bystanders’ intention to intervene and help the victim in online contexts. The current experiment examined how cybervictims’ disclosures (i.e., sharing personal information) on Facebook influence bystanders’ attributions of blame, empathy, and intention to intervene on behalf of a victim following a cyberbullying incident.

What does this mean?

People have less sympathy and empathy for those that over-expose (overshare) themselves and end up being ridiculed or harassed than those that are innocently minding their own business or have fallen victim to an online prank.

When you constantly are seeking self-approval through your cyber-“friends“, have you de-cluttered your friends list lately?  Are they your real friends or possibly people that don’t have your best interest at heart?

acquaintancelistWe have mentioned this many times – you can create lists on Facebook of your closest friends and families for your  pictures or questions.  Don’t share them with your collection of 2000 virtual friends you barely know! Facebook has made it easier since you can now sort with an putting them in your acquaintance list. Since you must realize by now — that can multiply off their friends lists too….. Before you know it – your photo, that may be questionable or simply private, has now gone viral.

Think Lindsey Stone.

She initially was clueless that her photo on Facebook would set-off such a firestorm and was quickly shared multiply times until she became a headline.  (If you don’t know the story, read the details – it’s very sad).

How can we stop sharing too much?

Let’s start by considering what we’re about to post.

  • Why is it important to broadcast it to your audience?
  • Who truly cares about this post (especially if you want to post that you’re eating a banana). Do we want to wait to see what friend will make some type of unsavory comment about that?
  • Why is this post important to your timeline?
  • How will it affect your social media footprint?
  • If it is something about family or vacationing (maybe fun in the sun with your latest bikini. Is there a jealous friend that could add a slamming comment?) Have you considered creating a list to those that do care or would be interested in viewing these comments or photos?
  • Bad day at work? Is it important to share that with your timeline? Consider who’s on your friends list. Maybe gather your closest friends over for a “whine and wine” session. Or simply call your best friend. Social media is not a good venting place for this type of laundry.
  • It’s not what you say — it’s how you say it. Keep in mind, opinions are what makes us all unique. We can all agree to disagree in a constructive and nice way.

Remember, yes free speech is our first amendment right, and so is free will for college recruiters and employers to use search engines to determine if you’re a good fit for their campus, business or organization.

Free will also is the right of those cyber-friends to make comments on your pictures, or even tag you in comment and images that may not be flattering to you. People can be mean – it’s that simple. No one is immune to digital cruelty, the more you expose yourself in a way that is less than respectful, the less likely people will empathize with you and want to help you when you are virtually drowning.

Oversharing, over-exposing yourself on social media, according to the recent study, not only puts you at risk for cyber-shaming, it can potentially set you up for scarring your online resume.

As Jaana Juvonen, a UCLA professor of psychology and senior author of this research stated:

“Young people need to understand that by revealing personal issues publicly online, they may make themselves more vulnerable to attacks from those seeking to harm others.” 


Video courtesy of Microsoft Safer Online.