In the Facebook era, it's okay not to share

Remember when Twitter first arrived on the scene? No one could work out what it was for. It was marketed as a means of quickly and briefly sharing what you were up to with friends, and originally that's what people did. Its early reputation was as a fairly inane way of telling people what you were eating for lunch – whether they were interested or not.

Users quite quickly adapted Twitter to their own needs. It became a platform for sharing far more than personal trivia and grew into a pretty handy way of keeping up with things you're interested in. Before long the 'what are you up to?' concept appeared at the top of Facebook streams and ever since we've been inundated with platforms for sharing our lives, from Instagram to Pinterest to Snapchat and hundreds of variations and imitations. Almost every smartphone app offers 'share' functionality, as does every website.

Somewhere along this journey the tail started wagging the dog. Somewhere along the way it became 'normal' to share pretty much anything you created and abnormal – antisocial even – to keep things to yourself. Made a great cake? Share it. Taken a great picture? Share it. Written something down? Share it.

Somewhere along the way it started to feel weird to want to keep something to yourself.

Well it shouldn't. Fundamentally nothing has changed. Just because it's a lot easier to share doesn't mean you have to.

As someone who encourages the capturing of stories in order to share lessons, it concerns me that a business owner today might hesitate to write their story down because they think it will inevitably be shared with the world.

The truth is that a story written and stored away in a filing cabinet can be just as valuable – even more so – than a story written and broadcast to the world. A story read just by your employees might help them understand the 'why' of what you do. A story read by only one person – your successor – could help that successor avoid making some critical error in the future. Even a story read by no one but its author could be useful, the process of writing being therapeutic and even inspirational in itself.

The point of capturing what you know lies in the capturing, not the sharing. Ignore the expectations of today's fad. Tell your story to whoever you want to, and no one else.

As usual, if you have any questions or comments, please add a comment below or contact me.

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