Too much information seems to be unavoidable now with people posting, tweeting, or blogging 24/7. Over-sharing has become the norm. Stub your toe, tweet about it. Two people fighting in Wal-Mart, post a video. Trying to start a revolution, start a blog.
There is no shortage of personal information out there and we seem to be more than willing to give it out. Nothing is off-limits. There is no shame anymore. But is it so different from before we had social media? Or is it simply a matter of scale?
I used to over-share in the days before the internet and social media. I was being a typical human trying to connect with someone and at one point in my life anyone would do. I thought I needed friends to confide in and share my inner most thoughts and feelings – now I have a blog…
But that’s another post.
When I was younger, though, I really wanted someone to understand me because I didn’t understand myself. I was lost and in pain and wanted, needed to know that it got better. So I would pour my heart out to almost complete strangers. You know, kind of like we do now on Facebook.
And then days, weeks, months would go by and these same people would turn around and use that information to hurt me or manipulate me or just to make fun of me. You may say that not all people are like that. I was just around the wrong people, but it kept happening until I learned to keep my mouth shut.
Then a funny thing happened. People started over-sharing with me. I would spend a good portion of my work day listening to my coworkers latest problems or issues. I would like to say they also shared good news and some did, but the majority of their conversation revolved around complaints about people or illness.
I didn’t pay much attention at first. Being self-absorbed much like everyone else, I was still thinking about me and my problems, but soon I found that I was emotionally drained every day. I couldn’t figure out why until I thought about what I had to listen to everyday.
It was too much. I felt for these people. I wanted to fix their problems for them. I tried too for a few of them.
That’s when reality struck. Those people didn’t want me to fix their problems. They didn’t even want to fix their problems. If they solved their problems they would have nothing to complain about or dump on unsuspecting people.
They simply wanted to share the burden of their problems. But how unfair is that? To dump something on someone who is neither responsible for nor capable of doing something about it just so we can feel better for the moment. Or rework what actually happened in our minds so we can feel better. Or they over-share to get you to share something they can use later against you.
I know how paranoid and mistrustful that sounds, but I’ve been burned too many times by ‘well-meaning’ people to feel bad about it. The only thing I can do is take responsibility for what I share with people. Pause and think about my motives for sharing something personal.
Pause and think, pause and think, pause and think…
Try it and see what happens.