Social (Media) Etiquette: We all have TMI in our bios, and it’s okay

Clarissa Sabile // Columnist 

Oversharing online was a concept many were introduced to in high school, and one that I personally let go of when I graduated. The importance of keeping accounts private, deleting intimate data, and avoiding online engagements with strangers was drilled into us by parental fears of predators. But, with the extent of the world wide web and an immature craving to disobey, the warnings didn’t stop an entire underage generation from signing up for Facebook and spending their evenings on Omegle. Today, nothing much has changed, and users continue to share personal information online. Maybe the only thing that has changed is how comfortable we’ve become with doing it. Enter: the public bio TMI. 

Social media bios are universally used to provide a small bit of identity context for others. Depending on where they’re posted (your LinkedIn and Grindr accounts probably look quite different), we define ourselves in certain ways to set a good impression and make forming social connections a bit easier. Social media always involves a dimension of self-image: our digital personas compensate for our less interesting/attractive/active (the list goes on) real life personalities. It became a natural, human instinct to present ourselves online as better than we actually are. With that being said, sometimes, the information we voluntarily add in social media bios is excessive or exaggerated. But worse than that, often, the information we share is a not-all-that-interesting overshare.   

Being one of the last of the babies born before 2000, putting 1999 in my bio at one point in time felt like a reasonable choice. Most peoples’ fascination with the 90s is correlated to the fact that it set a majority of trends that have been recycled into relevance today. But, after more consideration, I figured it’s a bit like when people get tattoos or necklaces of their birth year —it’s not that significant. You were birthed, and that’s all. Logically, adding your birth year does allow for others to calculate your age. Realistically, when I’m old and pruny, I won’t be as pumped to feature 1999 anywhere. 

Similarly, advertising astrological signs is only useful when other accounts provide their own and you can determine your compatibility. Like many people, I don’t know my rising sign because my mom doesn’t know the exact time I was born and I don’t want to dig for my birth certificate. Hopefully, just including “Aries” is sufficient for all the Co-Star users out there. 

Relationship statuses are another popular choice for bio content. Initials, heart emojis, and my personal favourite—the exact month, day and year of when they started dating their significant other. This subgenre of users are just so in love that they have to let others know right away. And for whatever reason, if someone did want to find out if they’re single, their Facebook statuses probably already provide enough evidence of their infatuation. Just leave the date out, man. 

Location is a piece of information that can be interesting to some, and not to others. If we’re discussing ethnicity, there’s nothing wrong with boasting a few flag emojis! However, I can still vividly remember my elementary classmates’ Tumblr accounts plastered with things like ‘VNCVR’ or ‘604/778’ in their “About Me” sections. Now this one is annoying for two reasons. There’s the (still) ignored issue of possible predators targeting your city, but the lack of vowels and the solo area code forces unknowing people to take extra steps in understanding what you’re trying to tell them. Luckily, I haven’t seen a case of this recently. But please, just spell the whole city name out. 

I’ve noticed a lot of classmate accounts highlighting the university they’re attending, some also including their projected year of graduation. The explicit prestige that comes with post-secondary education was cultivated by American TV shows and their apparent frat/sorority culture. But, as most Canadians can relate, a diploma is a diploma. It can help classmates in searching for and adding you to a Facebook group, but aside from friend-requesting and working on projects, the school title will be deleted soon after graduation day.  

Quotes are what I consider the make-or-break micro-moments of whether I’d stay on a user’s social media page or click off. Responsible users include their career titles, hobbies, and links to their art or branded work. Since most young adults don’t hold particularly prestigious jobs just yet and spend most of their leisure time watching Netflix docuseries’ instead of doing assignments (I might’ve sent this to the editor a day late for the same reason), their social media bios tend to be unprofessional and probably meme-related.  

         In the end, I’m a hypocrite: “1999” and “Unceded land aka Vancouver” are both currently in my Instagram bio. I probably put the date of when I officially secured my first boyfriend in elementary school in my Facebook “About Me” section too. And I absolutely added “CAPU CMNS” to my Twitter bio when I got accepted. Overexposure is almost a requirement when on the internet, and especially so when using social media. We want to be noticed, give our digital selves lives, and make connections with others. Since not talking to strangers online is arguably impossible now, and people are still posting whatever they want, it’s clear that the rules of the digital world have become more lenient. Growing up with the internet made us feel comfortable with what we share about ourselves, regardless of whether it’s considered too much information. 

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