The Obsession With Oversharing

I’ve talked about selective productivity here before, but lately I’ve been thinking about sharing and how it’s gotten totally out of control. It’s become an obsession. While we were taught that it’s good to share, I think we’re getting to a point where “oversharing” is more the norm. And as a result, much of it isn’t good.

The Internet (and especially social media) has made sharing easier than ever. And that’s a big part of the problem. But it’s only part of the problem. Sure, you can share where you are and what you are doing with a touch and a swipe on your smartphone, and if you want to share that kind of stuff…well, you’ve got the tools to do so. On some occasions sharing where you are and what you are doing may lead to a social encounter – or a discussion – which can be healthy and demonstrates the power of the platforms on which we share. But there comes a point where you really have to think about what you’re sharing…and if it is even worth sharing. Because every time you share the mundane, you run the risk of unintentionally burying the stuff that isn’t so mundane.

When I write here, I am sharing. I’m doing so with my writing, with context apparent and I’ve provided a forum for feedback by leaving my comments on. And I do my best to regularly engage in the conversation within the comments section. Sometimes my sharing is practical how-to-do stuff. Sometimes it’s a form of venting. And sometimes it is just passing along information that you might not have gotten anywhere else. But I’m selective about what I write here because there are certain things that I don’t feel I should share (very personal stuff, for example). I also don’t share a ton of stuff that I feel is being said better (or much sooner) elsewhere.

That’s where social media comes in.

On Twitter and Facebook, I share the work of others. I also share brief thoughts, witty remarks and carry on discussions with other users. But, again, I’m selective in my sharing on social media. I try to steer clear of being “hyper-local” because that’s not my area that I dwell in online – there are others that want to do that – and do it far better than I would. I also tend to use social media as a means to draw people to my own work or the work of others…because I think it’s best suited for that purpose.

As “blogging” and social media have gained in popularity, we’re starting to see a lot more sharing. And I’m seeing a lot of venting. A lot of things that people would have normally said under their breath beforehand are now being tweeted or put up on Facebook now.

Instead of making things that are really “useworthy” people are breaking things that aren’t really newsworthy.

Make no mistake, I’ve done it too. But I’ve vented more here than on social media platforms. The thing is that by doing it here is that I’ve given people a chance to respond in more than 140 characters – and it won’t fly by as quickly as a stream of tweets does.

The thing about selective sharing is that it requires contemplation – even just a little bit. Some of the questions you should ask yourself include:

  • Do I need to share this?
  • Why am I sharing this?
  • What are the pros and cons of sharing this?

Those questions may take some time to answer the first few times you start asking them to yourself, but soon you’ll have a better sense of the answers…and you’ll have them faster. By thinking before sharing you’ll also generally share less, meaning you can spend more time creating something to share. And when you share less, you’ll share better.

The fact we can share so much more easily than ever before is incredible. But the next time you have the notion to share some gossip on a forum about how a politician drives or tweet how you’re stuck in an airport because your flight is delayed, think about keeping it to yourself (or sharing it privately – either to the politician or to those who really need to know your flight is delayed). The time you spend sharing that kind of business takes away from the time you could spend really “minding” your own business.

There. Venting complete. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. (Or don’t. That’d mean you were paying attention.)

Photo credit: Carlos Maya (CC BY 2.0)