Is Silence Golden During the Social Media Age?

I’m a fairly private person. I don’t like strangers knowing much about me. Even my acquaintances have limited information about my life. Ok, full disclosure here: I’ve been with good friends, on my birthday, and they have not known that I was privately celebrating the fact that I was moving into another year. 

A bit extreme, perhaps. 

So, one can probably envision the challenge that I’m experiencing with social media, a party I was rather late in arriving; Facebook and Twitter, 2012. LinkedIn, last week.   

I understand that social media, in particular Facebook, is resourceful for reconnecting with old friends; those who live in different cities or countries where the ability to catch up, in person, is quite limited.  Facebook enables us to keep in touch with not only those from our past, but also our present group of peers.   

I get THAT component of social media.   

Far more challenging, for me, is the professional aspect. Kow much career-related information is REALLY needed on Facebook or Twitter? Is it at all beneficial to post your current work, where you’re working, with whom you’re working, how late you worked last night, when you start work tomorrow, or that you’re at the airport waiting to catch a flight… to work? And then there’s the photos, further illuminating the seemingly ‘breaking-news’ developments of one’s day. 

Does relentlessly tweeting and posting career related details actually HARM your professional image? Is there any merit to this, regardless of one’s profession, from boardroom to Broadway?  

And what if you’re an entertainer? The less I know about a performer’s personal life, the more believable they are on screen or stage; I’m seeing the character that an actor has created, as opposed to the person they are when, for example, they jumped up and down on Oprah’s couch a few years back. 

There’s a lot of jumping up and down on Twitter and Facebook. 

It’s not even the loudest voice being heard anymore. It’s any voice. Platforms are in place for self-promotion. One can generate a lot of purported excitement about themselves or a project with which they are involved. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the project is of good quality. It simply means that one is talented at getting people excited about… something.  

But, clearly, there are benefits. 

Social media allows an artist to promote their work. And in doing so, art becomes far more accessible to the public. Society is made aware of what is happening not only on a national stage, but also at a grass roots level. Artistic accessibility increases dramatically. Many artists will concur that entertainment is an arduous field in which to endeavour; it’s hard to get noticed let alone hired, at times. Any extra publicity helps, even if you’re doing it yourself.  

I think it was George Clooney who said, “Early on in our careers, we run frantically toward that spotlight. And then once a spotlight finds us, we spend the rest of our lives running away from it.” Unless of course you’re a Kardashian. But that’s an entirely different article. 

With social media, we have become our own publicists. But perhaps the key here is to be selective in one’s usage.   

My verdict is still out. And as I sit on the social media fence, I am comforted by the words of legendary Montreal-born actress Genevieve Bujold. Who, you say? Exactly. Ms. Bujold is the star of such films, Kamouraska and Dead Ringers. In a recent Cineplex magazine interview she described her relationship with the media as such: “In my 50-year career, I’ve really just given a few interviews. If people want to know about me, they just have to watch my films and they will know everything.” 

Maybe some measure of silence truly is golden.