I’ve been thinking about cutting myself and other intimate details…REALLY???

“I just got out of the Psyche-ward. I checked myself in because I was starting to think about hurting myself” he said

“I used to live on the streets. My parents kicked me out of the house at age sixteen because I’m transgender” she said

“I finally broke up with my boyfriend, I’ve never told anyone this, but he has been beating me for the past 10 years of our relationship” she said

~ Those are just a couple things that various people have shared with me at coffee recently. All of the people know that I write a blog about the people I meet at coffee. I asked the guy who was in the psyche-ward if he had any concerns about me writing down his story,

“Not at all Kenneth. My life is an open book, and if telling my story can help someone else, than that would mean a lot to me” he said (I’m sure I’ll write down his story sometime soon).

We definitely live in a different era. I remember reading about the I Love Lucy Show and how back in it’s heyday, it was the first ever television show to use the word “pregnant” on TV. Apparently it used to be scandalous to say the word “pregnant” on television. Pretty ridiculous when you consider what is aired on television these days!

People are much more open these days, and I can’t help but wonder if people are a lit bit “too open”. I’m not a big fan of posting intimate pictures of your daily life or vacation for the world to see, there are a lot of creepy people out there that end up being stalkers. Sure, a picture of you standing in front of the Eiffel Tower is no big deal, but when you post pictures of yourself standing outside your hotel room number or at a particular restaurant in a particular city…..things can get dangerous.

Take the example of this young woman who set out on a boat trip to raise money for breast cancer survivors. A few years ago Jenn Gibbons embarked on a historic one-woman boating trip around the perimeter of lake Michigan, a 1500 mile journey. Throughout her voyage she posted pictures of her trip on social media to update the many people who were following her excursion. Sadly, a stalker used the daily photo updates Gibbons posted to track her down, and on one particular night, he showed up at her boat to rape her.

While Gibbons story might be exceptional circumstances, I tend to think this might be more of a trend that we will see more of in coming years. After all, it has become well known knowledge that young men stalk women via the Internet. Say a dude likes a particular barista or bartender; with the average young woman posting so much of her life to social network sites like Facebook or Instagram, it isn’t difficult for that dude to spend hours looking at pictures of her life.

Because I write a blog that is mainly devoted to sharing the conversations I have with people I meet at coffee, I take great care in preserving the privacy of those people. I change people’s names, I alter certain details, and I tend to never refer to specific cities or locations. The vast majority of people tell me it isn’t necessary to go to such great lengths in guarding their privacy, and in most cases I think the people actually want others to know who they are in real life. Perhaps one day I will start a thread in which my readers can get to know some of the people I meet in a more revealing fashion.

Ultimately, people enjoy connecting. It is the one sad thing that the younger generations are losing out on. It used to be that hanging out over a cup of coffee and having a good conversation with friends was a big deal. Now it seems that young people spend more time staring into screens than staring into faces.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,


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Categories: Culture & Society

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3 replies

  1. I understand what you mean, but there are several sides to this subject. I, for instance have trouble in social situations. Among my many personal issues is a lack of a social circle. In real life, I pretty much only spend time with my family outside of work. So I use social media and other websites to connect with people. This is how I broaden my perspective of the world and participate in conversations that interest me. It’s not perfect, but it lowers the level of anxiety I experience when interacting with people. Now, I’m definitely not a fan of the overshare–I don’t need to see a picture of the soup you had for lunch or care how awesome your workout was–but there are some issues that do need to be out in the open. Mental illness, discrimination, violence, among so many other topics have been too long hidden away for fear of making people uncomfortable. Still, especially with some of these issues, we do need to protect ourselves. So I think we’re talking about two separate issues here, maybe more. Sharing is good, but we need to be prudent about the kinds of details we reveal and the kinds we keep private. Social media doesn’t replace face to face interactions, but it does provide a new and valuable venue for conversations, updates, and support. Basically, like everything else in life, it’s complicated.

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