The difference between sharing and oversharing?
I don’t think of myself as a particularly private person. But I confess I am struggling with this growing trend of oversharing especially on social media. I’m not a grump either. I’m glad people are having fun. I just don’t want to deal with it all the time. On social media platforms such as Facebook, everyone wants to see our true selves. The concept of “true-self” was first identified in 2002.
It is the notion that we possess qualities we’d like to be recognized for, but that we normally find ourselves unable to express in day-to-day life. It’s underwritten by a need to belong. Perhaps this accounts for subjecting friendship groups to never-ending streams of narcissistic selfies, images of pets, pictures from family vacations or nights out with friends.
Puh- leeese NO!
Over sharing on LinkedIn
Even a professional platform such as LinkedIn has morphed into a combination of Facebook and Match.com shifting away from exclusively professional content to pictures of semi-naked women, puzzles and personal information. Facebook professional groups contain cringe-making, soul-searching statements about goals, achievements, challenges and disappointments. The smallest issue generates acres of input and comment. What is it about people who need this form of recognition and level of interaction in their everyday lives? Is social media sapping our innate self-confidence when we can’t make even the smallest decision or have a minor thought without putting out a vox pop to cyber space for comment? It seems that way.
Oversharing is a new form of bragging
Posting updates, with photos and checking in seems to be the new way to show the world we are “better than” and the latest form of bragging. It’s shorthand code for saying “look at me having a great dinner in this fantastic restaurant.” I have friends, I have family, I’m popular, I’m happy. Do we really care if someone has checked into an international airport for their nth trip of the year, or their cat is having a nap? No we don’t. For many it has become compulsive, even addictive behaviour.
But is it just me? I found out that it isn’t.
Over sharing of trivia, drama and emotions is a negative
Gwendolyn Seidman Ph.D. says in Psychology Today of friends who shared trivial information that much depended on the frequency of the interaction. For friends with frequent contact, disclosures centered on trivia impacted friendships negatively. Posting superficial information for people who know you well “can make your friendship feel like a burden and ultimately hurt the relationship.”
Showing off your romantic relationship can also impact friendships and not in a good way. In that same study, the researchers found that “those who took their online coupledom too far with over the top lovey-dovey posts were liked less than those who didn’t talk about their relationships or who kept their affectionate posts minimal.”
So the advice is that it’s OK to let everyone know you are in a loving relationship, but anything more than that is seen to be showing off and your friends don’t like it. With an online reputation you are what you write. Many forget that.
Our need to belong drives people away
So the sad truth and seemingly I’m not alone in this, is that over sharing driven by a need to belong can result in people being lonelier in the end. “Oversharers might just be reaching out for a human connection, and we slap their hands away because we’re uncomfortable with their need.” Seidman’s study shows that the posts showing care for others rather than self were the ones that generated the most interest. There is a body of evidence that suggests that too much self-focused activity on social media does produce a backlash. This has always been the case even in no digital times. The only difference is that today’s audience for over sharing is considerably wider now and the possibility to alienate greater numbers is higher.
In 1936 Dale Carnegie wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People, and advised “Become genuinely interested in other people”. In 2016 – it’s still the case.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
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