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What You Need to Remember About Self-Disclosure on Social Media

Self-disclosure is rewarded with popularity on social media. Whether we choose to make this self-disclosure or applaud those who do, there are some things to keep in mind.

Image Courtesy: Danie Franco

1. Self-disclosure is often rewarded with popularity on social media. Someone who frequently posts about what they are doing everyday: what they are wearing, what they are eating, where they are going, what they are reading is, over time, are likely to get more followers and likes than someone who reveals less about themselves. But remember, what you see of people online is only a sliver of their own reality. They could well be struggling with things they do not share online.

2. The constant need to get more likes and followers can affect your mental health. Social media interactions can be great for collecting information and staying connected but overdependence can also lead to severe mental health issues. Observe your own mood when one of you posts doesn't get as many likes as you were hoping for. Not all of us can be popular and not everyone who is popular is "better". Staying aware of that help us remain grounded.

3. When you applaud people for their online performance, remember not everybody can afford the labour or has the privilege to churn out such content. Do not judge people's worth based merely on their online persona or presence.

4. Also remember that many are invested in building personal/individual brands here. When you play a role in building their brands, at least be aware of the process so you know whose labour and voice you choose to endorse and amplify.

5. Not sharing too much on social media doesn't make you "lesser" in any way. Maybe you just don't want to over-share. That's perfectly dignified. Constant sharing on social media can be exhausting for some. It can even wear out those on the receiving end of your posts. Allow yourself and others to withdraw and rest.

6. Sharing too much information online has real risks attached to it. Learn about vertical privacy (e.g., protecting the information from being used by the platform or third parties) and how revealing too much about yourself can make you vulnerable to identity theft, sexual harassment, or even criminal exploitation.

7. The number of likes you get on a post or tweet do not reflect your worth. They reflect what people who have access to your feed are pleased with or approve of at that particular moment. Don't let the algorithm control your mood and mental health. Don't compare yourself to others. You are a unique human being!

8. Self-disclosure and the sharing of intimate details can sometimes be empowering for others. E.g. when a trans person reveals the familial violence they face, a survivor of intimate partner violence talking about their trauma, a dalit person sharing casteist slurs they have heard.

9. Those who feel ready to share intimate details undertake a certain risk by putting themselves out there. Support them by all means but also be aware that they may not have the backing of an infrastructure once you've scrolled past them. If and when they face online threats or abuse, be there for them.