Over the last several years, I’ve discovered there are basically two types of people — public and private.
The public type is the kind who likes to sing karaoke, talks extra loud at a restaurant and never turns down an invitation to a party. This is also the kind of guy who proposes to his girlfriend at a ballgame so the whole stadium can see it on the Jumbotron.
On the other hand, the private type likes to sit in a corner booth at a restaurant, sometimes with a good book. The private type may go a party, but only if it involves a small group of close friends. This person may sing in church but is rarely the loudest voice in the room. And a Jumbotron proposal would be about as likely as finding a hard-core Korn fan at a Mumford and Sons concert.
This is not to say that public types don’t have some private-type tendencies and vice versa. But most people lean fairly solidly to one side or the other.
I myself am basically a private type, although by the nature of my newspaper job, I engage in more public behavior — such as interviewing people for articles and editorials, and by writing columns.
Still, I find myself fascinated by people who live their lives on display — and are more than just OK with it.
Nowhere is this more evident than on social media sites, particularly Facebook.
It astounds me to see some people who chronicle their entire day’s activities on the site, starting with their early-morning need for coffee, continuing through their frustrating drive to work and moving right on with what they ate for lunch. And the minutiae keeps coming — a post about picking their kids up from school, a whine about endless errands and a summary of their dinner menu (complete with a photo of the entree).
With some of these people, it just never ends. About the only thing missing is an update on their latest bathroom visit — and I’m not so sure that won’t be next.
It makes me wonder how these folks get anything done. I mean, if you have to pick up your smartphone every 15 minutes to tell about your latest quasi-important development, how do you ever finish a task?
Of course, we know they actually finish a task — because they can’t wait to put up a post about it.
As for me, I get on Facebook for about a half-hour each day and read what everyone has to say. I usually comment on a few posts and “like” a few items, but that’s about it. I’m generally more interested in what others are doing than in sharing my own news items. My wife’s pretty much the same way.
One thing that just floors me is when people post real-time updates and photos while traveling on vacation. If they provide enough biographical information on their home page, it wouldn’t be hard for an enterprising burglar to figure out where they live. Why don’t they just hang a big sign on their house that says, “On vacation. Feel free to break in anytime in the next week.”
Of course, if someone does break in, it will provide these folks with several days of interesting posts when they return. And that alone may make it all worthwhile.
I guess I just don’t understand the “look at me” mentality that goes along with being a rabid Facebook poster. Except for their closest friends, does anyone really care to read about the heavenly lentil soup they had for lunch or that they had the sniffles all weekend?
Maybe the biggest public-private difference is that public types believe they’re more interesting than most people and private types think they’re not.
If that’s the case, I think I’ll err on the side of humility — if that’s possible in a column with my name on it.
Contact Dave Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7543