Smoasting: social media boasting - the phrase of 2014 and we're only two months in. Our daily conversations are peppered with hashtags, the self[ie] obsession has gone stratospheric and we're all 'instaglamming' edited versions of ourselves. Is it me, or has social media become a bit too self indulgent? Does the desire to get a 'like', 'share' or 'RT' override all our usual social filtering?
You see, I'm wondering what's coming up next with our online behaviour and how things are evolving. Don't get me wrong, I blimin' love the web, in fact I would be out of a job if it wasn't for it. So much so, that I'm the very person at work trying to convince colleagues, and forcing things like 'social media strategies' in their faces (it's a real job, honest) to convince them that we need to be interacting more with our clients through social networks.
And anyway, if I'm honest, I'm secretly excited to be part of the digital revolution; to be on the edge of huge changes in the way society communicates and makes changes happen #geek.
But there is also a little niggly, nagging voice that wonders how much is too much - particularly when it comes to protecting our children.
For example, we all know that couple who like to share. We not only know what they cook for each other, which films they watch and where they go, but we also know their toddler's choice of sleep position. We've watched their son from conception (well almost) through scan photos to birthdays - and while on one hand that's very sweet for close family and friends - on the other, what about their friends of friends of friends who can also see the nursery that Johnnie is attending tomorrow?
To me, old school friends who see your daily life is weird enough, but what about a creepy stranger across the other side of the continent - one whose intentions are shady, who is snooping through your family pics and possibly using them for other purposes. Have you checked your privacy settings and filtered your lists? No really? Do you check them every month and see all the deliberately hidden, ever-changing 'opt-out' buttons?
It's lovely to share news with family and friends but sharing things with people who you don't really know is another matter altogether, especially when you haven't filtered your friends lists: suddenly your brother's best friend's bandmate's badminton buddy Brian is seriously stalking you because he had a crush on you since 1994 and knows where you will be 1.35pm on Saturday and turns up. With a camera.
Don't get me wrong, I've certainly been guilty of sharing and Smoasting, especially the Fuck-Off Boasting About Your Child posts: when our 19-month-old completely surprised us by counting to 10, I was bursting with pride and wanted to shout it from every rooftop but I stopped myself. Because, actually, do I really need 40 likes to affirm that our son is as bright as a button? To us he always will be - to others, let's be frank, they're being polite.
I just wonder where our social responsibility is when it comes to our offspring, online. Is posting about your newborn, or worse, setting them up with their own social media account, the equivalent of displaying your child on a billboard, in their pyjamas, in Central Park? #justasking. Maybe the responsibility got lost in our human instinct and desire to feel liked and accepted. And therein lies the hidden clue: the 'like' button. Those folks at Facebook are clever.
Then there's instagram (instaglam) - celebrities' dream ticket to have their ego stroked - the perfect forum for the very people who need that extra acknowledgement in order to feel important, with celebs hiring instagram teams to produce that perfect pout.
So where do we go from here? With Facebook swallowing up every [Whats]App around in order for 'the world to be more open' (read: get access to all our mobile contacts), we're more at risk to being exposed. What happened to good ol' privacy? Only time will tell. In the mean-time, I'll be checking out that nursery...