Recently, I saw a social media post that included a picture of various bottles, pills, and paraphernalia, along with an involved description of the medical prep and a procedure the person was to undergo the next day. I’ll hark back to a word from my teen-hood to convey my reaction—GROSS! After I got over my initial distaste for this too much information dump, I thought about why this person, and others, feel compelled to share so much and what this type of post really conveys about people who “put it all out there” regarding something going on in their lives.
Here are my thoughts on what over-sharing really says:
I’m afraid – Fear is probably the greatest motivator of over-sharing. Fear often puts our tongues in high gear and causes us to blurt much more than is necessary. While fear is a normal response to shock and uncertainty, it also increases exponentially with every “what if” you allow yourself to entertain. The antidote to fear is trust—trusting that life will move forward even if what you are accustomed to changes and believing God sees the overall picture, is in control, and has our best interests at the forefront.
I need support and concern – Information like that mentioned in the first paragraph isn’t the only kind of over-sharing. People sometimes tell too much about a circumstance at work, a difficult family member, or a situation or incident that happened many years ago. Often, the need for concern and support motivates beyond the bounds of wisdom, and sometimes inappropriate over-sharing causes unpleasant repercussions later. People have lost jobs for social media rants about bosses, been sidelined for a freelance project after expressing unbridled political views, or damaged relationships because they vented publicly.
Notice me – While this may not always be the case, people who over-share often feel isolated and alone and want to be noticed and affirmed. When we become self-focused, “notice me” becomes a way of life, and eventually, others fail to support emotionally to the level, or with the frequency, you’ve come to expect. When a person shares only difficult or negative things about life, and never anything positive, it’s almost always a cry for notice me.
My faith is a little shaky – What does over-sharing say spiritually? It seems to imply limited faith in God’s care, concern, and abilities, as if additional people are needed to make something happen. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about asking others to pray for you. Scripture advocates wise counsel from trusted advisors. I’m referring to hashing out all the details of a personal situation in a group, on social media, or to whatever set of unsuspecting ears you can lasso. I get that some people are verbal processors, but perhaps try journaling first. You can learn a lot about yourself though personal writing, and when you go back and re-read, a solution to your problem, fear, or frustration often presents itself.
Sharing What Isn’t Yours to Share
An addendum to telling too much about yourself is sharing news that isn’t yours to tell. We all encounter people who make it their goal to collect and disseminate information about others. Often, the sharer conveys information in the form of a prayer request, but the real name for this kind of over-sharing is gossip. And if we’re honest, we’re probably all guilty of doing this at some point, maybe even on a regular basis. But here’s what telling other people’s news says: I want people to know I’m in the know. Over-sharing about others is an effort to feel important, close to a situation when you really aren’t, and an authority on something that really isn’t yours to own. If someone gives you permission to share news, go ahead, but let others tell their own news, whether good or bad, in their own time and way. Put yourself in the other person’s place. Would you want everyone telling too much about your current circumstances before you were ready? Probably not. So think before you share and practice zipping your lips more than you flap them. It’s a good habit to cultivate.
“Those who are careful about what they say keep themselves out of trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23 NIRV)