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Heavy Meddle: Should I Announce My Good News On Social Media?

What’s the line between sharing and oversharing? (Damian Zaleski/Unsplash)
What’s the line between sharing and oversharing? (Damian Zaleski/Unsplash)
This article is more than 3 years old.

Welcome Meddleheads, to the column where your crazy meets my crazy! Please send your questions. You can use this form, or send them via email. Not only will you immediately feel much better, you’ll also get some advice.

Hugs,
Steve

Dear Steve,

I recently got into an architecture masters program and I am over the moon about it.

I keep wanting to make some sort of announcement on social media about my upcoming move, but I don't want to be a jackass.

Is it bad form to share this news publicly?

Signed,
Department of Congratulations

PHOTO

Dear DoC,

The world is full of amateur pundits ready to give you a quick, assured answer on this matter. (Caution: I’m one of them).

Some will tell you: Yes! You have every right! Social media was created to share good news like this! You worked hard to get into your program and you want your friends and acquaintances to know! Heck, you even have a responsibility to let people know about this life transition, so post away!

Others will offer this take: No! Social media isn’t, or shouldn’t be, just a tool for self-promotion! If you have good news to share with friends, that’s great. But why not send a group email, or individual emails, or letters? Or heck, throw a party where you can celebrate in person with actual friends, rather than trolling for praise in such a generic and ultimately impersonal way.

I happen to agree with aspects of both these takes. But my opinion isn’t what matters here. Yours is. This is why all those “Social Media Dos and Don’ts” pieces strike me as so pointless. Because social media is ultimately a personal construct. Each of us gets to decide how to portray our lives, what to disclose, what to withhold, where to draw the line between private and public, how to curate the strange museum of our digital selves. And the rest of the world — or those who we imagine to be watching — get to react to that constructed self. It’s on us.

Each of us gets to decide ... where to draw the line between private and public, how to curate the strange museum of our digital selves.

Some folks promote their work (guilty as charged). Some share videos of their children, or mark milestones, or provoke political arguments (again: guilty). Some kvetch over the amount of grilled chicken on their lunch salad. Some share personal stories of horror or sorrow, the passing of loved ones. There’s no ultimate right or wrong to any of this. It’s just how we decide to do business.

The question redounds to you, DoC. It sounds to me like you really want to let people know that you’ve had this success, and to inform that you’ll be making this happy life transition. But you’re also worried about being viewed as arrogant or self-indulgent. My hunch is that most folks will be delighted to hear of your good news. But hey, I don’t know anything about your social media habits or community. Maybe some folks will judge you harshly. Maybe some people will respond with snark or even -- gasp --defriend or unfollow you.

Try to remember what matters here, which is that you’ve engineered an important accomplishment in your life. You should feel good about that intrinsically. And you should thank the people who helped you get there — in person, if you can manage it, or at least in a way that feels personal.

If you want a wider sense of validation that’s fine, too. At least by me. Heck, you’re a human. We all want that, whether we cop to it or not.

Good luck on the journey.

Steve

Author's note: My own use of social media is pretty awful. That is: I mostly troll for attention and praise. But I also try not to think about it too much, or to confuse it with my real life. How do you use social media? What meaning does it hold in your life? Please send your thoughts to the comments section below. And hey, send a letter to Heavy Meddle, too. You can use this form, or send your questions via email. I may not have a helpful response, but the act of writing the letter itself might provide some clarity. — S.A.

Steve Almond is the author of the book "Against Football." He is the co-host, with Cheryl Strayed, of the WBUR podcast, Dear Sugar.

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