The funny thing about writing this article is that it isn’t completely foreign to me.
Oversharing is something I often think about and yes, guiltily participated in. I decided that maybe in writing this, I will allow myself a tiny bit of forgiveness for my past crimes of forcing somewhat close friends to watch me break down. Oversharing on social media is real, but more importantly, is not ok. Yes, I said it, and maybe you, the reader reading this just cringed because you know what I’m talking about and that I’m right.
So what is oversharing on social media? While it can be defined in a myriad of ways, with social media constantly growing it seems impossible to perfectly describe, it’s basically the act of people (mainly women – I’ll get to this later) who tend to divulge overly personal aspects of their life on social media. And while I may sound judgemental of this, because to be completely transparent I am, it’s not to say I’m not guilty of it.
After long nights of wallowing in self-pity, posting that Snapchat to my private story detailing the sad details of my pathetic love life and dwindling mental health is cathartic. It serves as an open invitation for friends to swipe up and console me, without me having to go through the awkward task of texting them asking if it’s ok for me to rant. It forces my friends to invest in a scenario they, in reality, have no place in, and in turn, makes me feel less alone.
I feel there are other reasons behind this overly personal diary of sorts too though. It serves as an attention-grabber, a way to ensure people will be emotionally-coerced into checking in on me and feel forced to offer a form of free therapy. And all of these reasons are valid, yet, it is still not ok.
Perhaps, even more intriguing, is why I have strictly observed this drama through women. Are cis, straight, white-men inherently narcissistic due to being born in an environment that teaches them to hold every single one of their thoughts on a pedestal? Yes, unfortunately so, but then why aren’t they the ones oversharing the minute and tragic details of their lives for all of Instagram to see?
I feel that it goes back to the concept of women being taught to see rather than experience things. Society ingrained in women this idea of silence, whether that be in the bedroom or the kitchen, and observing men accomplishing the activities that society forbade them from doing. We have since taken that silence and tried to break free from it by doing it in a way that feels personal and intimate (the irony in this sentiment as who has ever described social media as those two things) and of our own accord. We most often choose who gets to see our emotional breakdown through a follower list or private group of friends, and it is a way to put ourselves out there vulnerably, without shame or public humiliation.
Bottom line: don’t do it!
Oversharing on social media is inappropriate and, frankly, unkind to your friends. When I spend a long day dealing with my own problems and turn to social media to wind down, the last thing I want to see is the details of a distant friend’s latest therapy diagnosis. So why do people do it? As much as I wish I could read minds because my life would become ten times easier and I’d be so wise and attune to the universe, my only answers are speculation.
Maybe it’s the sense of security: social media provides a sort of faceless interaction that lends itself to a feeling of no consequences. If someone is unhappy or uncomfortable with a too-personal post, the likelihood of them saying something about it is slim. Or it goes back to the idea of free therapy, friends providing all the validation and kind words of a therapist without the hundreds of dollars spent. No matter the reason, it is wrong, and yet, I don’t think it is stopping any time soon.
There are many alternatives you can turn to instead when you feel the urge to run to social media to take care of your problems. Journaling is an amazing way to feel like you’re venting without burdening someone. It also provides a chance for introspectiveness and to understand the deeper meaning behind why you’re feeling what you’re feeling. There are also crisis hotlines readily available with people prepared and qualified to help you with what you’re going through. Know that you are never alone, and no matter how terrible you feel in the moment, nothing is permanent.