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A/S/L: A Global Catalogue of Digital Pet Peeves

When it comes to online sharing – a term which is often synonymous with oversharing – what irks you the most?

If you live in the U.S., chances are you’re most irritated by people who use social networks to complain and vent their frustrations at the world. But this American pet peeve isn’t a global phenomenon: In China and Indonesia, most people cite profanity as the biggest drawback to online sharing. Indians and Brazilians, meanwhile, find the greatest fault in online users who post explicit photos on social networks. And in France, oversharing private information with the online universe tops the list of virtual sins.

These findings are part of a fascinating cross-cultural study of online sharing behaviors commissioned by the Intel Corporation and conducted by Ipsos Observer. The “Mobile Etiquette” survey, which solicited responses from adults and teenagers in eight countries about how they consume and share information online, reveals interesting commonalities and differences in the way we connect with one another in the digital realm.

A Global Catalogue of Digital Pet Peeves

Regardless of age, gender, or nationality, nearly all survey respondents agreed on two things: people divulge too much personal information online and the state of mobile etiquette is dismal:

The specifics of these assessments, however, varied from country to country and between age groups: In Australia, for example, the top mobile etiquette pet peeve among older respondents (85 percent of those 55 years of age and above) is when someone texts while driving, whereas in Japan, the biggest faux pas, according to 63 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34, is when mobile users keep the volume of their devices cranked up too loud in public. Generation gap?

And what people share online is also dependent on where they live. Although photos, current events, and opinions top the lists in nearly all the countries surveyed, the overlap ends there. In Japan, for instance, only one percent of users share their religious beliefs online, compared to 39 percent of Brazilians. And for all its political rhetoric about “family values,” U.S. users are at the bottom of the list when it comes to sharing details about their families, with only five percent of respondents claiming to share this information online, compared to one-third of all users in Indonesia, Brazil, and China:

The study, which is available as an interactive online, also presents information about where people are sharing (envy-inducing vacation posts are a universal staple) and whether this global oversharing tendency is reflective of users’ real-life personality traits (in China, a staggering 65 percent of users are more comfortable sharing online than in person; in the U.S., the number is less than half that).

The survey, with its easy-to-navigate charts and elegant graphics, is worth checking out. And who knows – you might just see Aunt Ginny’s affinity for posting albums of her macramé projects in a new, ethnographically significant light. Maybe.

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