Confessions of a Chronic Social Media Over-Sharer
A definition: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/overshare
If you’re not familiar, get familiar, via these articles, if you are, skip em:
Ok. I am an unrepentant, chronic online ‘over-sharer’, and I don’t think I should be ashamed of it, nor will I temper myself or concede with judgments of my chosen style of social media use as misguided, a result of a ‘failure to compartmentalize’ or a ‘need to get attention’. (It’s interesting how the wire observes that this critique is often launched at female bloggers. Hmmm.) No, Slate, I am fully self aware in my honesty and I am not some pathetic ‘exhibitionist’, this is not information I ‘would not reveal otherwise’. If people are critical of what I post because they are staunch advocates of privacy and keeping to themselves, they can look the other way. I’m a person, we’re all people, we’re all in this life together beyond the arbitrary boundaries we constantly erect between each other. I want to express who I really am online and find like minded people by doing so, and that’s totally valid. If you want to be private, that’s cool too and nobody is judging you, so why are so many writers today penning critical articles projecting their own fears of ‘oversharing’ on line? Who decides what is ‘too much’ and who made them the authority? I am sharing out of love, not out of fear. If people don’t like it, move on to ‘safer’ less personal pastures. I think our fear of oversharing is, in other words, our collective tendency to feel afraid of being truly honest, a self-conscious tendency to put what others may think of us before what we think of ourselves.
With all due respect to the myriad of bloggers and writers who take to the internet to lament the oh-so- terrible ‘over-sharing problem’ we apparently have today, naming all kinds of pathologies that are supposedly at its root, I will keep baring my soul, and you can keep your respectability and your pseudo nostalgic yearnings for a contrived ‘private’ past, thanks. Took me a bit to get to this conclusion though. Here’s a snapshot of that process/a new style of dialog type writing I’m trying out:
(Aggregated critiques of over-sharing online:)
Stop over-sharing about your private life, girl. Not only is it not important, it might hurt your career possibilities in the future! Employers will look you up and read about how you were depressed. They’ll read about your bipolar diagnosis! The stigma of imperfection! Vulnerability is bad! No! No! Are you stupid? Get a grip on reality. You’ll probably end up working for someone else, that’s most people’s lot in life regardless of their cute little dreams. If you don’t hide them, they’ll see the Facebook photos of you in college, drinking and smoking, dressing in provocative clothing, partying like the twenty something you are, having fun. Not good. They’ll trace you online and see all the fucked up things you admitted about yourself in your blog! You’ll ruin your chances to appear like an impressive, responsible worker with her head on straight and a squeaky clean social media image! Fuck, Coral! You’d better erase that shit before you settle down and start looking for a real job, because no real boss is going to hire you. Besides, focusing on and sharing about the self is narcissism, you self-absorbed blabbermouth, er….blabberhands! All this me, me me. Get over yourself. Why don’t you write about things that objectively matter? And another thing, social media is making you lonely, you need to get out there and talk to someone face to face for crying out loud. Publicly putting your personal troubles out there for all to see just shows how misguided you are, what ever happened to etiquette? You can’t just say whatever you want. Not only is it important to think about what future bosses and grumpy middle aged women at HR will think, it’s highly important to consider what is and is not appropriate in social settings in general and tailor your words to fit those expectations, Coral. Don’t be so naïve and open, especially with strangers. Your honesty will come back to bite you one day! Be aware of what others will think of you! Back in the day, kids used to have private diaries. It’s a shame that everyone wants to be so out there now. It’s fine to blog, but some things are meant to remain private, and that’s that.
Well then. No need to be so mad at me. Jesus. If, in the future, it was my intention to work as an employee for a firm or company, especially the kind that googles my name, finds evidence of a multifaceted, complex human being with issues, quirks, and imperfections, and quickly crosses me off the list, well, you’d have a point. But it ain’t. So fuck em. Guess I’m not respectable enough, then. (The nerve, who do you think you are?!) Hey! I’m talking. I didn’t interrupt you! LIKE I was saying before being so rudely interrupted: If they can’t factor in my so called ’imperfections’ as part of the richness and wholeness of my personhood; if they discount me for falling short of some bullshit ideal, then their workplace policies and vibe are probably repressive, conformist and stifling, and they can and should dump my resume with the quickness. Unless I’m writing about fantasies of mass murder on my blog, chill out. If I do work for someone else, I would like that to be a company that respects the fact that I am an actual human being, not a resume, not the ‘worrisome’ findings of a Google background check, not the raised, judgmental eyebrow of Mrs. Human Resources. I’m NOT your human resource. And if the contents of my blog make you uncomfortable, you should probably do some soul searching your self. Maybe start your own? (Oh, please, I have better things to do. Like pass well meaning judgment on you for instance. I’m only trying to help you see that Hey. I’m. Still Talking.
Listen. (I’m listening. *sulks*) First of all, what if I want to live for today and not for some theoretical point in the future? What if I want to blog to react to my feelings in the moment rather than keeping silent about them for some guy in an office and his possible opinion of me? Besides, I want to be my own boss in the future. And, I both like and personally benefit from being as honest as I feel like being, as often as I want, in real life and on social media. I drink, I smoke, I do ‘bad’ things. So does theoretical boss, and he knows it He’s human too. Doesn’t mean we both don’t work hard, doesn’t negate my talent, but come on, of course I have problems that I’m trying to work through. People who think it’s bad to put the not-so pretty aspects of ourselves and our lives ‘out there’ tend to be the types to repress those things in themselves and put up fronts to others. I’m human, and hiding that, even by omission, feels like a betrayal of myself, feels like I am buying into the shame we all buy into when we accept external definitions of what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’, what is ‘safe’ or ‘acceptable’ to reveal to others. And besides, what are we agreeing with when we see online evidence of these so-called ‘transgressions’ as a shameful stain on our reputation? The wolves on Wall Street aren’t paying for their transgressions, are they? Lets not pretend, some can and do get away with whatever they want because they have money and power. Besides, the only real reputation I have is the one among the family and friends who actually know me.
Moving on. There are legitimate reasons for what you proclaim to be an ‘over-sharing’ problem. To me, social media is not some vehicle with which I can spew my narcissistic, self-deluded navel gazing out into an unsuspecting public. I blog for my circle of friends and for anyone else who can relate and wants to discuss experiences and ideas. I do it to keep my loved ones, who live all over the word, in the know about what I’m up to. I’m very introverted, so writing and sharing online works out beautifully for me. I blog candidly about my inner world to reach out and connect to others on a deeper, more honest level. I look around and intuitively perceive that as a rule, we hide, we often do not share, when we could. We don’t feel safe enough, or we see it as pointless, embarrassing, no use, what about etiquette, right? (Random PSA: If I hear ONE MORE ARTICLE bashing something that Generation Y overwhelmingly partakes in, I’m pressin charges.) Believe it or not, I really like the feeling of being alarmingly upfront, personal and authentic in my blogging. Not because I am too caught up in myself to believe that I am the most important topic in the world or because I have some psychological ‘issue with boundaries’. Lol, don’t get it twisted. It’s because authenticity, within and with others, is one of my dearly held values, something that defines the essence of who I am. (There you go talking about you again) Yes, I am. Life is experienced through the lens of the subjective self, and I think that using social media to share ourselves is a great way to open up to other people in social world that we all know discourages raw honesty. I do best with all things subjective and raw and personal. I find strength in being vulnerable. I used to hate that about myself, thinking I was ‘awkward’ for NOT knowing how to not be personal, for having this enormous impulse to self disclose and forego conventional conversational barriers. (I have made a few people uncomfortable with my candidness before, but most people end up respecting me for it. I’ve found that the more I refuse to wear a mask, the more likely people are to take theirs off, and look, there you have it, a real foundation for building a connection between two souls. The private messages I get from people ‘oversharing’ right back to me in return are worth so much more to me than a phone call from a job I will hopefully never apply for anyway, and they are worth the possibility of being seen as weird and ‘too open’ by those who praise ‘healthy’ compartmentalization.
Masks are the norm and ‘oversharing’ is historically taboo in atomizing, alienating American society, which is probably the greater systemic reason for millions of people taking to the Internet to reach out to one another in the first place. Everything in context, you know? I ‘overshare’ to counteract the very real pressure to ‘appear’ a certain way, to use social media to market myself and display a superficial image that will objectify me for consumption by my peers and future employers. Don’t you find it a little weird that in a time where mental illness is apparently epidemic, our earth is dying, and the wage gap is incredible, there remains a heavy blanket of stigma against ‘oversharing’ that keeps us alienated in our suffering by making it ‘normal’ to keep conversations and interactions ‘light’ and detached? I do. And if you don’t, that’s cool. But that doesn’t make me wrong, and it doesn’t make you right. It’s all perspective. Think of it this way: can we not do a perceptual script-flip and argue that there is a huge problem with ‘undersharing’ that the internet is having a dope affect on? How can people ever know that they are not alone in their subjective experiences if we as individuals do not talk about them? The internet the critics want is fucking boring, anyway.
Like I said, I am down to overshare, and hey, maybe I am making an unwise, idealistic sacrifice of future employability in the name of some stupid misguided ideal. But hey. Never been very good at pragmatism. Maybe I’ll learn, change my ways, and delete this blog one day.
Now you can talk.
But I’m not listening. Gonna go ‘overshare’ some more. (*Leaves*)