As social beings, we adapt our communication to the situation at hand — the “context”.
If you’re a 25 year old student attending University, then you probably talk about different topics, use a different vocabulary, phrase yourself differently and in general behave differently in these situations:
- A thanksgiving dinner with your parents, siblings and grandparents.
- A pub-crawl with friends your own age that you study with.
- A private conversation with a small handful of close friends of yours.
- A political meeting discussing policy in a political party you’re a member of.
- Colleagues and/or bosses that you talk to during your part-time job.
Context collapse is what happens when all these widely different social contexts all collide.
If you share something on Facebook with the default “Friends” setting, then you’re effectively sharing it with ALL of the groups above and more. Your different contexts have collapsed and become one; and you might find that you don’t have a lot to say that you’d really like to share with ALL of these people.