Arit Okpo: Oversharing? [NEW VOICES]

by Arit Okpo

I have one major guilty pleasure. I love gist…celebrity gist especially. I love reading about who got married and to whom, etc etc. This means of course that I spend a lot of time on news and entertainment blogs just catching up with what my fave celebs are up to. With my interest in gist comes an interest in comment sections. I have discovered the good, the bad and the are-there-actually-human-beings-like-this-in-this-world kinda commenters. Now, no matter what the post is on, there is always at least one person who; in the case of good news, advises the celeb to keep their lives under wraps, or in the case of bad news, castigates the celeb for not keeping their lives under wraps.

The logic goes along the lines of “Better keep your life details to yourself because once things go south, people will point to all your happy posts and use them to mock you” This sounds good in theory but I kinda have my doubts about it.

Back in the old days, everybody knew everybody. When someone had a baby, the whole village knew. When someone lost a wife, the whole village knew. There was very little that was private or secret. Colonization and modernisation changed those approaches but people still needed to let their friends and families know what was happening with them. When social media was born, a new form of communication was born, now, instead of calling Aunty Tope, Aunty Funmi and Aunty Dupe to tell them the news, and then confirming the gist to Brother Femi, Uncle Bayo and Cousin Tola, we could just post “New baby born, happiest day of my life” under a picture and people could consider themselves informed.

I agree that the social media way of life has increased the voyeuristic pleasure we get in watching other people’s lives, but is it any different from how human beings have always been? It’s just easier now. There will always be people who want the whole world to know the good news; they are the same ones who would drive their newest car through town till every single person had seen it. Now they can simply post, work done. Even if you’re not a “share with the world” person, it is human nature to want to share the good things happening with you; if not to the world, to the people you consider your community. And if that community is made up of people that you have never met before and wouldn’t recognise if they walked past you, so be it.

Celebs get a lot of the heat because they are such public figures. So when someone posts pictures of a beautiful vacation, whether for page views or to simply share a moment, there are thousands of people getting updated and it seems, just as many bookmarking the happy post for the day when something bad happens.

It’s a bit unrealistic to expect people to hide every single good thing or detail about their life simply because people are watching. Yes I know it’s a crash to watch a marriage crash after months or years of posting “Bae sent flowers to me at work today #LoveWins #Blessed” and tomorrow “A new car just because #LoveYouForever #MyForeverSmile”. But that is life! And we cannot tell people to stop sharing their good just in case of the bad. Plus who really really wants to share the bad moments of their life?

I feel bad for these celebs who are expected to stop being human beings simply because the world knows them. They are unable to celebrate a gift, a treat or simply a good moment. For some, it’s a self-created trap to give the illusion of a perfect life. For others, it is simply sharing the good news of the moment. For as long as there is life, there will always be people willing to share their details. For as long as there are details, there will always be people with eyes glued to catch both the moments that soar and the moments that bruise. It’s a weird sort of balance, but hey, that’s the way it is.

Arit is a highly versatile Content Producer, Presenter, Writer and Speaker. She currently produces and presents The Crunch, the flagship news show for the Ebonylife TV platform, where she discusses and analyses current affairs issues and stories. Arit has also presented travel show Destinations Africa; politics show Naija Politics and cooking show Chefrican, also on the Ebonylife TV platform. She is passionate about telling the African story from a positive and powerful perspective.

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