Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sharing Everything or is it TMI

Young people today sometimes speak in acronyms. It is not necessarily that they like them, it may be simply that they do not want the rest of us to understand them without consulting Google. A physician once told me that is why doctors use Latin words, but I digress. One of my favorites, largely because of its great versatility is "TMI," for "too much information." I have heard this one used in a great variety of contexts, from a sincere "stop talking, that is too much" to a more "tell me more, tell me more, like does he have a car" context (Grease, 1978, once considered by some to be a bit racy, but strictly "G" in the new millennia). 

Today, I focus on TMI. I am amazed sometimes at the amount and detail of information that people are willing to share about themselves. From Instagram and Facebook postings with pictures of every meal they eat to detailed discussions of personal issues, the Internet is simply full of detail. If you had told me thirty years ago that people would voluntarily disclose so much of their personal lives, I would have laughed. Of course, it is obvious I would not have had the last laugh; the joke's on me I guess. 

So, I should perhaps not have been so surprised recently by the story published on Yahoo about a lady and her purchase of underwear. She was dissatisfied with the result of her purchase. She might have quietly returned them to the retailer for an exchange. She might have worked around the issues. She did not, and instead photographed them for the Internet. 

These undergarments were supposed to be organized by the days of the week, with one pair for each day clearly labelled. The purchaser was upset that the set contained no pair labelled "Monday," but two pairs labelled "Thursday." Some among us might have simply worn one of the Thursday pairs each Monday, and gone on with life. 

This purchaser, though, instead posted on social media, noting that such labelled garments might only be attractive to an "obsessively organized person." She said she was "unprepared for the horror that awaited me upon opening the box." She explained someone that would just move on and wear a Thursday pair on Monday, would be a person from among "the illiterate or the criminally insane." If your underwear is mislabeled, it is a "horror," and if you are not bothered, you have serious issues according to this purchaser. 

The comments (it is not a real news story if no one comments, assails some group or population, or makes accusations of ignorance or worse), were to the effect that this story was "not news," that the purchaser might have certain bigger issues, and humorously that someone must have gotten stuck with two pairs of "Mondays." But the best comment perhaps was someone suggesting "the real horror is how many people don't get that this was just a light-hearted joke;" the posting, not the mix-up.

So, in the process, all of this person's social media connections learn something about the purchaser (as does the world because it went viral and made the news). What in fact is learned is debatable, and may just be "she has a great sense of humor." But it reminded me of a nagging feeling that perhaps people are just sharing a little too much on social media, as in "oh, that's your underwear? TMI." 

Another story struck me in a similar vein, that is "was that TMI?" It was more on the level of actual horror however, at least I believe most will agree with that adjective. This ABC News story is about Makeva Jenkins of Lake Worth, Florida. In 2013 she was homeless, but had one of those spirits that strives for success. Just four years later, she was reportedly "making six figures," and then "multi six figures." Suffice it to say that she was doing well. 

Ms. Jenkins was growing a business, following her heart and persevering. She worked creating "business plans and marketing strategies for small businesses and entrepreneurs." It appears that she was living the American dream, rising from humble beginnings and challenges that would perhaps be insurmountable to some of us (I cannot conceive how I would react to being homeless, it is a situation I cannot understand and which I have just never experienced). 

Ms. Jenkins posted about her success on social media. She advertised that she was soon to host a seminar to spread her expertise and market her business. She explained on social media about her challenges, dedication and success. She wrote about her income, the "six figure" and "multi six figure" income. And hours later a knock came on her front door. It was not "opportunity knocking."

A man reportedly knocked at about three o'clock in the morning, a few hours after she posted to social media. When she answered, the masked man walked in and fatally shot Ms. Jenkins, leaving her three children, aged 1-7, without a mother. He fled "in the family car," which was then abandoned nearby. A young and apparently vibrant entrepreneur, having overcome adversity and challenges, shot down in her own home. 

There is no direct link between Ms. Jenkins death and that social media post. But, the implication has been suggested. That is in no way suggesting or implying blame on the victim. No one deserves to be attacked and killed in their home. She had every right to promote her success and her business. The success story that Ms. Jenkins achieved is inspiring and motivational. Her drive and determination, her achievement of the American dream is heartwarming. But, perhaps we have to question whether it is a good idea to post everything about ones self on social media?

Maybe there is such a thing as TMI. And, perhaps we learn from these stories that it may be better for us to reserve a little of the facts and details for ourselves?



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