Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dealing With Too Much Information (TMI)

You log into Facebook and you see it again. And it's the same person again. It starts out alright, a recap of some basic happenings of their day, "had a dr. appt this afternoon." Fair enough. "They found out that I have to have some tests done." Ok. "They need to check my phlegm for intestinal parasites." Oh, come on, too much information (TMI).

It has turned into a plague with social networking taking over as a component of everyday life. Back in the early 90's, this wasn't too much of a concern when using a BBS but since then, TMI has slowly become an epidemic.

Which then requires the ultimate of decisions - when do you cut the TMI abuser off? When to cut the cord and let them sail into TMI oblivion?

You start out by answering THE simple question: does this individual ever have anything relevant to say? Or, is every single post information you simply don't care about and way too detailed than you care to know. If that is the case, the simplest solution is to remove the friend from your social networking circle.

However, what if they occasionally do have some little tidbits of interesting knowledge, then what...

Twitter & Buzz
Twitter and Buzz are a little different since you tend to have more people that you follow. It isn't as personal a medium as say Facebook so, that in itself, makes TMI a greater violation to its uses. In Twitter & Buzz, I simply use the three strike rule. First TMI, I think about how often this person posts relevant and useful information. If the answer to that is not too often, then I wait for strike two. Still nothing relevant, last strike. If still do not get myself a link or anything of interest, it is time to let them go and unfollow them.

Break out a hint
When dealing with more tight-knit and personal sites, such as Facebook, you may want to break out a hint to show the person that maybe, the entire world does not care about their personal business. Maybe throw an, "ew" as a reply to a rather unsavory description. How about a, "I really didn't need to know that" but put a nice smiley at the end to show that you did find it inappropriate but were kind enough to say it in a joking manner. A simple, "TMI" may suffice a medium savvy social networking user.

In Facebook, you can always hide them
If you don't feel right deleting the user as a friend, you can always just hide the user's posts from your homepage (I explain how to do this here). This way, you won't be off of their friend list but you don't need to succumb to hearing all about their digestive issues. If they are repeat offenders writing TMI on your wall, remove their ability to comment on your wall. If they decide to message you about it, you may have to do the unthinkable...

Confront them
They are human. Let them know that they have a habit of saying just a bit too much for the social networking community. Let them know that the girl you met at that party and drunkenly friended or the guy who sat next to you in social studies in the eighth grade may not care about your long, dysfunctional relationship with your father. Break it to them gently but firmly. If that doesn't work...

Unfriend them
It is time. You dropped a hint, you tried to hide them, you even confronted them. Now, as Sting said, "if you love somebody, set them free". It is time that they go on without you. They can continue to tell their bathroom stories and about their family problems but no longer to you. But, at least you tried to solve a friend's TMI problem. It was your version of an intervention. Not everyone can be saved.

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