Too Much Information?
by Ernest Barteldes
This week I came across a piece in the news about this new site called pleaserobme.com, which filters Twitter users’ ‘tweets’ that say exactly what their whereabouts are. It’s basically a listing of potential empty homes – an opportunity for burglars who might want to use this kind information to break into peoples’ homes simply by garnering information from social networking sites. Though the site’s Danish creators say that they do not encourage actual break-ins, they do point out that people ought to be more careful when putting their personal information online for everyone to see.
Though my own ‘tweets’ are nothing line the ones I saw on the site itself (some posted the actual address of the Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts they were sipping a latte in), it made me look back at my own postings and ponder: how much information is TMI? And how much is too little? Where do we draw the line between being coy and being an open book?
Some people I know are very serious about guarding any personal information that might be on the Internet. By Googling their names, I find little else than some college information or their names on employees’ email directories in their places of work – if at all. Others (including countless celebrities) let it all hang out, and as a result we get to ‘know’ their lives intimately even without knowing them at all.
Take, for example, a female blogger I came to know a few months back. On her daily feeds, she revealed intimate feelings, tidbits on her daily life and even opinions on some political issues she advocated (she continues to do so) Though she does keep a lot away from the blog, she once admitted that when her readers met her, she had little to say, since everything she had done was already old news for those who had seen it (so much for a stimulating conversation). Thankfully, she did not go as far as guitarist John Mayer or actress Amanda Bynes, who tweet about pretty much everything, including their bowel movements (Mayer).
As for my own updates, I feel they are pretty tame compared to what I have seen. For instance, I rarely tell people exactly where I am (last week I wrote ‘drinks at Cargo Cafe,’ but how many people outside Staten Island know where that is?) except when I go to a concert or something like that. Having learned from past mistakes (I talked about this in the past, not going to elaborate), I now prefer not to be too outrageous or revealing. However, I see that being ‘out there’ gets people interest.
But do we really need to know?