Likely most of us can provide examples of friends, relatives or strangers who have divulged way too much information about their private lives; we’ve come to call this oversharing. Sometimes we laugh off these instances in a good-natured way, the way I did recently while waiting in line to attend a concert, mildly entertained by the person in front of me who, unprovoked, shared her life experiences at concerts.
Other times, when folks overshare we may feel bored, annoyed or even angry as we get sucked into their drama. Cousin Jessie’s proclamations about leaving her husband may alarm us at first but after a few years, we tune out these threats.
Reckless Posts and Clicks
With the explosion of social media sites, oversharing is common place. Posts and pictures of our children, grandchildren, pets, foods consumed, places visited are de rigueur. So, when we discovered 50 million Facebook users’ data was “shared” with a nefarious company, we shouldn’t have been surprised.
We recklessly click away exposing our “likes” and answering inane questions about our innermost thoughts and feelings. Why do we do it?
Boredom, Loneliness and Anxiety
Boredom and loneliness are two reasons people spend much time on social media. Avoidance is another reason. Who wouldn’t rather post and read posts than clean the toilet? And of course, that old bugaboo, anxiety, is often at the heart of oversharing.
When we don’t know how to relate, we fill up space with stories about ourselves or others. I have been known to complain that social media brings out the narcissist in us all. Underneath all the bluster and boasting is the fear we’re not really living up to expectations. Oversharing can be a desperate cry for attention.
Kicking the Habit
As it turns out, listening more and talking less could be easier than unplugging from social media. Listening to others and inquiring about their lives are skills that can be learned. Addiction to social media is now a societal problem. Just ask yourself and others why you post and tweet and you’ll hear some interesting responses reminiscent of why an alcoholic can’t stop drinking. “It’s my social outlet.” “It’s how I connect with others.” “I’ve got it under control.” If only.